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Imagine a food so powerful it can actually fight heart disease by lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure. Or, a food that’s able to multitask by keeping your heart rate normal and reducing inflammation.
The plant-based nutrition world is full of these “super foods” and you’re probably familiar with some of them: olive oil, nuts and salmon. But those aren’t the only ones to add to your diet to improve your heart health and help you feel your best.
Here are five super foods to pick up the next time you’re at the grocery store. Your heart will thank you.
1. Black beans
Black beans are part of the legume family. They contain folate, magnesium and antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure levels. Black beans also contain soluble fiber, which is helpful in lowering cholesterol levels. If using canned black beans, rinse thoroughly to remove the extra sodium.
The fiber in these green soy beans helps lower cholesterol levels. Their protein has also been shown to reduce triglyceride levels — and they make a delicious snack when boiled.
3. Swiss chard
This vegetable (a cousin to beets) comes in a variety of stalk colors with beautiful green leaves. Swiss chard is rich in potassium and magnesium, which helps control blood pressure. And it also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two heart-healthy antioxidants. Sauté with a bit of olive oil until wilted and season with herbs and pepper for a delicious dish.
4. Plant sterols/stanols
Sterols (or stanols) are plant extracts that are added to a variety of food items such as orange juice, margarine and soy milk. They’re considered “super foods” based on their ability to block the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the gut by 10 percent.
Research shows that carrots may help to reduce your risk for diabetes (a risk factor for heart disease) and contain soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol levels. Keep a bag of baby carrots handy for your next snack attack.
Your heart is a powerful, amazing organ. Protect it for all it’s worth with a heart-healthy diet.