Every year in the UK, The British Heart Foundation declares February as National Heart Month. In light of National Heart Month this year we're bringing you a blog on Healthy Heart Foods! Read on to hear all about their benefits and how you can add more of them into your diet today!
Stay tuned 'til the end to find out how to sign up to The British Heart Foundation's 'Dechox' Challenge this March.
Fist up we have tomatoes. Tomatoes are a source of the antioxidant lycopene which has been linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer and an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. Tomatoes are also a great source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate and Vitamin K.
Ideas on how to include more tomatoes in your diet:
- Create your own pasta sauces with real chopped tomatoes.
- Add a side salad to lunch or dinner with tomatoes in.
- Don't forget to add tomatoes to a yummy full English.
- Try on top of avocado toast!
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants and studies show that eating them can reduce multiple risk factors for heart disease!
For example, eating berries plays a role in improving insulin resistance and LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, BMI and markers of inflammation in addition to improving the function of cells that line the blood vessels helping to control blood clotting.
Ideas to add more berries into your diet:
- Refreshing snack to eat fresh on their own.
- Great healthy desert option.
- Fantastic frozen to add into smoothies.
- Yummy porridge topper.
3. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale, cabbage and spinach are known for their good health qualities, namely being high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Benefits of leafy greens include being a good source of Vitamin K, and studies link leafy greens to a lower risk of coronary heart disease, reduced blood pressure and improved function of cells lining the blood vessels.
Ideas to get more leafy greens into your diet:
- Add in a few large handfuls of leafy greens to soups and stews
- Juice it! If you have a blender get your leafy greens in there.
- Have a side salad with lunch.
- Add extra portions of vegetables to your evening meal.
- Add greens like kale and spinach to pasta dishes.
- Finely chop and use to garnish meals if you're feeling extra fancy!
4. Fatty Fish/Fish Oil
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are known for their heart-health benefits.
Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to be beneficial in reducing heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
If sea food isn't your thing, then an omega-3 supplement could act as an alternative.
Ideas to add more fish into your diet:
- With fish as the main source of protein, group a fish fillet with a portion of carbs such as rice or potato and fill up your plate with mixed veggies or a side salad for a healthy, balanced meal (why not add those leafy greens and tomatoes in here too!)
- Add tuna to salads or on top of jacket potatoes.
- Sandwiches! Quick and easy.
We've had the fruits, veggies and protein so now onto fats - almonds!
While also a good source of protein, almonds are a source of heart-healthy fats and fibre which protect against heart disease and decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Not only that but eating almonds as associated with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol which helps keep arteries clear.
How to incorporate almonds into your diet:
- A small handful of almonds is the perfect portion to snack on to keep you full in between meals.
- Remember to be mindful of portion sizes if trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight as for all their benefits, almonds are also high in calories.
- Try to opt for unsalted nuts if watching your sodium intake.
For more healthy lifestyle tips and advice check out our four pathways to help you to Eat Well Lose Weight, Drink Less, Be Smoke Free and Move More.
If you're wanting to challenge yourself next Month, The British Heart Foundation are calling all chocoholics to 'Dechox' in March to raise money for ground breaking research into heart and circulatory disease.
If this sounds like a bit of you then sign up to the challenge.