Tag Archives: steel cut oats

10 Best Foods for Your Heart

As we head into the Easter weekend, I wanted to offer you some blogs on healthier nutrition choices. Here are ten choices that you can make that will be heart healthy and are adapted from an article at Health.com.

1) Oatmeal

Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties—which contain more fiber—and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.

2) Salmon

Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third. “Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist  Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks. But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals. Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.

3) Avocado

Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to up the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. “Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids—especially beta-carotene and lycopene—which are essential for heart health.”

4) Olive oil

Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties—they’re the least processed—and use them instead of butter when cooking.

5) Nuts

Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids and, along with almonds and macadamia nuts, are loaded with mono- and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”

6) Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever berry you like best—are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. “Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.”

7) Legumes

Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber.

8) Spinach

Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber. But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost.  The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%.

9) Flaxseed

Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.

10) Soy

Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet. Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.

So, use these tips to have a happy and highly healthy Easter … and make it a heart healthy one at that.

Superfoods for Women

Most of us love to eat great food. But, we also want to feel great. Can we do both? You bet you can if you choose foods that make you energetic, smarter, leaner, and stronger — and then use them the right way in your daily eating habits. To help you accomplish that, here’s a story reported by CBS News. Registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth, the senior food and nutrition editor for Health Magazine, made these suggestions on “The Early Show” about what she considered some of the top “superfoods” for women:

What are “superfoods”? As Largeman-Roth explained, the list comes from Health magazine’s experts.

“We went to our experts and said, ‘If you had to compile a list of 10 superfoods based on nutrient profiles and research, what would you choose?'” Health magazine went through the answers and, based on the responses, came up with this list:

  1. Wild salmon
  2. Oats
  3. Wild blueberries
  4. Walnuts
  5. Broccoli
  6. Greek yogurt
  7. Olive oil
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Avocado
  10. Red beans

Largeman-Roth says superfoods go beyond just eating food for energy. “These foods,” she said, “are like the supermodels and superathletes for the food world, giving you the biggest bang for your buck, as far as health goes.”

Salmon, she said, is important for its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Largeman-Roth explained omega 3’s also boost mood and fight depression and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, salmon has vitamin D which is another essential nutrient that we’re not getting enough of. Largeman-Roth, citing the American Heart Association recommendation, said people should eat 2, 3 to 4-ounce servings of salmon per week.

Oats, another superfood, helps lower cholesterol. In addition, Largeman-Roth said, oats help you feel full – a key component for a weight loss or weight maintenance diet. “I’m a big fan of steel cut oats — they’re a bit higher in fiber,” she said. “But you should get them any way you can. Instant is fine, just don’t get too much sugar. They’re another example of a very versatile food: you can supplement them with other foods (yogurt) or use them to make cookies or pancakes.”

Greek yogurt also made the list, Largeman-Roth said because of its calcium content. Greek yogurt, she explained, is triple strained, meaning it has three times the amount of milk, meaning its good for your bones. Just one serving, she said, provides nearly a quarter of a woman’s daily calcium needs. She added women should have three servings of dairy per day, so Greek yogurt should make up one of those servings.

Superfoods also extend to nuts – walnuts, that is. Not only are walnuts delicious, they are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and omega-3s, according to Health magazine. Eating just a handful a day, Largeman-Roth said, can help lower your cholesterol, boost brain power, help you sleep better and cope with stress. Walnuts may also prevent heart disease and fight cancer. She said you need about an ounce a day — about 10 whole walnuts.

Why did olive oil make the Health magazine list? Olive oil is another heart-healthy food, Largeman-Roth said, but it also can help with longevity. “The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity,” she said. “This diet protects against Alzheimer’s disease, but also helps with mild fuzzy thinking.” She said you can use olive oil in a variety of ways, from drizzling it on top of pasta to using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.

Some vegetables and fruits also appear on the Health magazine list, including blue berries and broccoli. Blueberries, Largeman-Roth said, are great because they’re super high in antioxidants. “They can help prevent memory loss and improve motor skills and even fight wrinkles,” she said. “They’re an all-natural anti-aging remedy.” Blueberries also may be used in a variety of ways: as a savory sauce to go with meat or fish, or you can eat them plain. She recommended buying frozen blueberries to save money if fresh blueberries aren’t in season. Plus, with frozen berries, Largeman-Roth noted, you can keep them in the freezer, and take them out when you need them. To achieve the maximum effects of blueberries, eat a cup a day.

As for broccoli, this vegetable is considered a superfood because it may potentially help fight breast cancer by reducing levels of excess estrogen. “It’s also rich in vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A,” Largeman-Roth said. “Broccoli helps you feel full on less than 30 calories per serving. Broccoli and salmon can make a great superfood pairing. You should be eating two or more half-cup servings of cooked broccoli per week.”

Red beans also appear on the list, a food that Largeman-Roth said is an often overlooked food, which ranks high on the ORAC scale for antioxidants. “(They’re) packed with protein, folate, minerals and fiber, including resistant starch,” she said. “They’re also very affordable food and very versatile. You can use them in burritos, dips, etc.” You should eat three cups a week to reap the health rewards.

Avocados made the list, too. Rich in mono-unsaturated fats, avocados, Largeman-Roth said, can help you lose belly fat. “You can eat it plain, or make soup with it, or whip up some guacamole. You can add it do a salad also,” she said. “It is high in calories so you want to stick to a half an avocado a day. It also makes a great baby food — I feed it to my baby.”

But superfoods aren’t all about fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate, a decadent dessert, also appears in the Health list. Rich in antioxidants, Largeman-Roth said dark chocolate can help strengthen bones, and according to some studies, reduce blood pressure. However, you shouldn’t overdo the dark chocolate. Largeman-Roth said only chocolate that’s 70 percent cocoa will work, and you should only eat a quarter of an ounce a day – about two small squares.