3 Surprisingly Heart-Healthy Foods
It’s a well-known fact that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, like oatmeal, are beneficial for heart health. Their fiber contributes to lowering cholesterol and their antioxidants fight free radicals and chronic inflammation. But did you know that heart healthy foods extend beyond whole grains and produce?
While it is a pattern of eating over time that contributes to long-term health, it may also be beneficial to add the following foods to your diet for improved heart health.
Yes, you read that right! According to a recent study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Conference, coffee may actually be associated with a lower risk for stroke and heart failure. The study compared coffee drinkers to non-coffee drinkers and found that with every additional cup of coffee consumed, their risk for stroke and heart failure decreased.
The downside? While coffee may have positive benefits, everything that’s added into it – read: sugar, heavy cream, creamers, and full-fat dairy products – are not part of these heart-healthy results. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for men.
Turns out, yogurt may provide benefits beyond bone health. A 2013 study found that individuals who ate yogurt had improved markers for heart health including lower triglycerides, lower blood glucose, and lower blood pressure.
The study suggests that yogurt-eaters have a better diet quality overall, which may additionally contribute to the improved markers for heart health. But be sure to skip the flavored yogurts with added sugars and flavoring. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and add in other heart-healthy toppings like nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit.
At one time, eggs were considered a food to eat with caution, but recent research shows this delicious, easy food staple is perfectly heart healthy. While eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, it is no longer believed that the cholesterol in foods will lead to increased LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In reality, it is saturated and trans-fats that turn into bad cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol.
Eggs are low in saturated fat and are a source of many nutrients including vitamins A and D, choline, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Remember, what you eat with your eggs is important, too. Pair your breakfast scramble with vegetables and whole grains, and limit fatty meats like bacon and sausage (I know, I’m sorry).
These foods, and more, are a critical part of keeping a heart-healthy diet. If you’re looking for additional inspiration, be sure to check out our Overnight Oats recipes! Old fashioned oats are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and fiber, which can help lower levels of LDL and keep arteries clear.
- Orange-Vanilla Overnight Oats
- Cocoa Banana Overnight Oats
- Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats
- Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
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Written by Allison Knott, MS, RDN