Spinach, on top of being heart-healthy, is a terrific source of fiber, lutein, folate and potassium, which all provide an amazing source of energy and can help with digestive health. If you're not a fan of raw, tender spinach, try incorporating it into whole wheat pasta dishes and warm salads. The flavor will be cooked out, but the health content will mostly stay intact.
Hello, anti-inflammatories! Increase your vascular health by incorporating blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and more into your diet. Blackberries are especially high in anti-inflammatories, says Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra in his book, Lower Your Blood Pressure in 8 Weeks.
Nuts are a vegan alternative of omega-3s, typically found in fresh fish like salmon. Macadamias, almonds and walnuts are especially high in "good fats" that keep your heart on the right track.
Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, just like nuts. Plus, they can be incorporated into just about any meal. Top a sandwich or add a bit of guacamole to accompany your meal. Avocados are tasty and packed with heart-healthy nutrition. It's a win-win!
The health benefits of salmon have been touted in the media in the last several years, but the fish really is a powerful way to increase your heart health. A rich source of omega-3s, salmon also contains a powerful antioxidant called carotenoid astaxanthin. Other fish -- like tuna and mackerel -- also contain these healthy antioxidants, but salmon is especially high in them. Fish is a great, low-calorie alternative to other fatty land animals at around 150 calories per serving.
Flaxseed is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. (Are you noticing a trend here?) If you don't like the taste of a whole flaxseed kernel, there's an easy alternative. Simply grind the flaxseed in a coffee grinder and incorporate the ground seed into any heart-healthy food, like whole wheat bread or oatmeal.
Speaking of oatmeal, choosing the right kind of oats for your health is crucial. Choose steel cut oats over regular oats, and regular oats over instant brands. Instant oatmeal can still be healthy, but many manufacturers add unnecessary sugar, sodium and spices to make the oats inoffensive to non-oat eaters. Oats pack a ton of fiber, which is great for your heart and your digestive system.
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