Why You Need to Include These Heart Healthy Foods in Your Diet

Monday, January 27, 2020

Heart Healthy FoodFebruary is American Heart Month; a month of focus on heart disease prevention. This is a great time to start thinking about and maybe even changing the foods you are putting into your body. Many articles will come out in February pertaining to what the top 5, 10 or 15 foods to strengthen and protect your heart are.

I thought it would be interesting and fun to take it a step further with those popular heart healthy foods and tell you WHY they are important for you! Here is a list of healthy foods that are important to include in a heart healthy diet.

Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are high in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, especially Vitamin K, which helps protect arteries.

Whole Grains
Whole grains are high in fiber which is strongly linked to reducing “bad” cholesterol, LDL, and helps reduce inflammation.

Berries
Berries are super high in antioxidants reducing oxidative stress and inflammation which contribute to heart disease.

Avocados
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats which also help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. They are also super high in potassium aiding in cholesterol management.

Walnuts
Walnuts are another super food in that the high amount of monounsaturated fats help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Dark Chocolate
Careful with this one! Dark Chocolate is high in flavonoids which help boost heart health, BUT only in small amounts and it needs to be 70% or higher in cocoa!

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another superfood in that they contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that promotes HDL, “good” cholesterol. 

Seeds
Seeds are surprisingly high in fiber. They also have omega-3 fatty acids which help control blood pressure and cholesterol.

Edamame
Like dark chocolate, edamame are high in flavonoids which help to control overall cholesterol levels!

Green Tea
Known for its ability to increase fat burning and improve insulin sensitivity, green tea is also very high in polyphenols and catechins, helping to prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.

Notice, all of these foods are whole, unprocessed and available year round. There is also a common theme of high fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and plenty of phytochemicals that help balance your LDL and HDL for a healthier total cholesterol. Most are very impactful in small amounts and combined with moderate exercise and a complete diet low in sugar will help protect your heart, control your weight and have you bragging all the way home from your most recent health check up!

Do yourself a favor and incorporate these foods into your daily meal plans. You’ll set a great example for your family and bullet proof yourself from the leading cause of death in the United States; Heart Disease!


Eric Gorder Greater Green Bay YMCA
Senior Healthy Living Director, Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist