Fresh herbs can help make other foods heart-healthy when they replace salt, sugar, and trans fats. These flavor powerhouses, along with nuts, berries — even coffee — can be part of heart-wise eating.
Fact: Rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme contain antioxidants.
Mild, tender black beans are packed with nutrients including folate, antioxidants, and magnesium, along with fiber, which helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Tip: Canned black beans are easy to add to soups and salads. Rinse to remove extra sodium.
Red Wine and Resveratrol
If you drink alcohol, a little red wine may be a good choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may help protect artery walls. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
Tip: Only drink in moderation: no more than 1 glass a day for women and 2 for men. Alcohol may cause problems for people taking aspirin and other medications. Too much alcohol is bad for your heart.
Salmon: Super Food
A top food for heart health, it’s rich in the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Omega-3s may lessen the risk of heart rhythm disorders and lower blood pressure. Salmon also lowers blood triglycerides and helps curb inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of salmon or other naturally oily fish a week.
Tip: Bake in foil with herbs and veggies. Toss extra cooked salmon into fish tacos and salads.
Tuna for Omega-3s
Tuna is another good source of omega-3s, and it generally costs less than salmon. Albacore (white tuna) has more omega-3s than other tuna varieties. Reel in these other sources of omega-3s, too: mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and anchovies.
Tips: Grill tuna steak with dill and lemon. Choose tuna packed in water, not oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This oil, made from the first press of olives, is especially rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help protect your blood vessels. It’s also a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are a better choice than saturated fats (such as butter) for your cholesterol.
Tips: Use a little bit for salads, on cooked veggies, or with bread. Look for cold-pressed and use within 6 months.
A small handful of walnuts a day may lower your cholesterol and ease inflammation in your heart’s arteries. Walnuts are packed with omega-3s, monounsaturated fats, and fiber. The benefits come when walnuts replace bad fats, those in chips and cookies.
Tip: Walnut oil has omega-3s, too; try it in salad dressings.
Slivered almonds go well with vegetables, fish, chicken, and desserts. They’re chock full of plant sterols, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Almonds may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, if you favor them over other fats. Grab a small handful a day.
Tip: Toast almonds to enhance their creamy, mild flavor.
These green soybeans have moved beyond Japanese restaurants, where they’re a tasty appetizer. They’re packed with soy protein, which can help lower blood triglyceride levels. A half cup of edamame also has 9 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber — equal to four slices of whole wheat bread.
Tip: Try frozen edamame. Boil and serve warm in the pod.