All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
― Charles M. Schulz
If you nibble dark chocolate to satisfy a craving, you’re also helping your heart with every bite. Dark chocolate is known to reduce hypertension, a key to preserving your heart health.
Alas, we can’t live on chocolate alone.
Take heart—a variety of foods can boost our health, according to nutritionists at UR Medicine's Strong Memorial Hospital. Infusing some heart-smart foods into our daily diets is wise because it’s one of the most controllable factors that plays a role in heart health. It can even be a fun and tasty task.
Here are five heart-smart food tips to get you started:
- Have a super bowl: A bowl of warm, steel-cut oatmeal is fuel-filled to energize you on a busy day, and high in fiber to help cut LDL (bad) cholesterol. Top it with a sprinkling of ground flax seed and you’ll get a boost of omega-3 fatty acids, known to help lower triglycerides and blood pressure.
- Look to the sea: Salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids so aim to have some twice each week.
- Get a little nutty: Almonds, macadamia nuts and walnuts are rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats that help lower bad cholesterol.
- Be berry smart: Rich in antioxidants, berries help reduce inflammation and can lower blood pressure.
- Go green: Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach are a great source of potassium, which lowers blood pressure.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. but it is largely preventable by diet and lifestyle changes. When you plan meals, try to have your plate half-full of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and grains. Consider selecting a super food from the list to incorporate into your diet. Combined with a daily 20-minute walk, you can make a significant improvement in your health and wellness.
It's never too early to start being heart-healthy.
If you need support changing your diet, the Healthy Living Center offers a variety of programs to help people improve their diet and nutrition, lose weight and lower their cholesterol and blood pressure. For information, call (585) 530-2050.