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6 Super foods for your heart

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Eat these for a healthy heart

Oatmeal and olive oil are heart-healthy super foods, but they're not alone. There are other delicious, easy-to-eat foods that provide powerful heart health benefits. Are they part of your family's daily diet?
Almonds in heart

Test your super foods knowledge

1. Which tree nut provides 13 grams of good, unsaturated fat per ounce?

2. Which tomato treat may help lower bad and raise good cholesterol?

3. Which tasty juice boasts the same heart health benefits as red wine?

4. Which little spicy favorite helps block the body's absorption of cholesterol?

5. Which funny-looking food is nature's version of prescription cholesterol medicine?

February 1, 2013 , marks the 10th year of the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women movement. The movement aims to educate women about the seriousness of heart disease.

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
  • Heart disease kills more women than men.
  • Heart disease kills women at an average rate of one per minute.
  • Heart disease kills more women than all kinds of cancer combined.

Of all the things we can do to improve our heart health and prevent this disease, eating the right foods may be the easiest. And fabulous super foods are ready to help!

1

Almonds

Did you know February 16 is National Almond Day? It's no coincidence the celebration of this heart-healthy food falls in American Heart Month and National Snacking Month. Almonds are naturally cholesterol-free, have the highest protein and fiber content of all tree nuts and contain 13 grams of good, unsaturated fat per ounce.

While almonds are keeping your heart healthy, they're also keeping your waistline small. Recent research by the USDA showed almonds have 20 percent fewer calories than originally thought. So grab a handful for a snack, sprinkle almonds on your Greek yogurt, munch on chocolate-covered almonds or try a healthy-heart recipe from the Almond Board of California.

2

Homemade salsa

Homemade salsa

Healthy salsa is easy to make at home, and — spicy or mild — it tastes great with a great many foods, including eggs, potatoes and hamburgers. Also, salsa provides an extra serving from the all-important fruits and veggies category.

Tomatoes, salsa's main ingredient, boast lycopene, a natural phytochemical. Add flavorful cilantro for the dodecenal compound, which may help lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. It's a powerful disease-fighting combination.

Why homemade? The advantage of making your own salsa over buying it at the store is you can control the amount of sodium it contains. Use salsa as a substitute for salty condiments and fatty cream sauces. Your heart will thank you for it!

3

Concord grape juice

One-hundred percent grape juice made with Concord grapes provides many of the same natural plant nutrients that are in red wine. And, over a decade’s worth of research suggests that, thanks to the dark purple Concord grape, 100% grape juice can help support a healthy heart.

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to get Concord grapes into your diet is with Welch's 100% Grape Juice. Concord grapes are pressed – skins, seeds and all – to release plant nutrients straight from the grape. Every 4-ounce glass is made with more than 20 Concord grapes and counts as one serving, or ½ cup, of fruit, with no added sugar.

4

Chili peppers

chille pepper

Did you know the green chili pepper has up to six times more vitamin C than an orange? It's also rich in vitamins A, B and E and is a good source of iron and potassium. The nutritional and health benefits of this low-calorie super food are phenomenal. Chili peppers help maintain the health of the skin, eyes and immune system and help block the body's absorption of cholesterol.

Beyond that, according to The Salsa Twins John and Jim Thomas, the hotness of the chili peppers releases endorphins and helps increase your metabolic rate. Now that is a super food!

5

Blue oyster mushrooms

"Because they are fungi, not vegetables, mushrooms contain compounds that are not available in other foods," says The Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow, author of The Veggie Queen: Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment.

The funny-looking, blue oyster mushrooms, in particular, are nature's answer to the prescription cholesterol medications, such as Lovastatin. "Oyster mushrooms contain compounds as effective as statins, but without harmful side effects," says Nussinow. "And you don't need to eat that many of them to have benefits."

Knowing is not enough

Congratulations! You know what super foods can help you maintain a healthy heart — but that's not enough. You must put these powerful foods on your grocery list, but then actually buy them and eat them!

More than half of shoppers surveyed (see below) know that red wine, salmon, oatmeal and olive oil are good for heart health, but only about a third or fewer actually buy these items on a monthly basis. Knowledge is power and may save your life.

Consumers monthly heart healthy chart

More on health and wellness

5 Things to do to strengthen your heart today
Easy low-sodium substitutes for cooking
When exercise can damage your health

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