3 min|Rhiannon Lytle
4 Foods to Eat For A Healthy Heart (Plus 4 to Avoid)Nutrition
Your heart does a lot of work. It is responsible for pumping blood, oxygen, hormones, and nutrients through your body. It also has that small task of keeping us alive... which is why it is important to eat for a healthy heart!
Luckily, it's quite easy to eat for a healthy heart, especially if you follow these simple steps:
Wild-caught, fatty fish
Particularly smaller fish like mackerel and sardines, are high in omega-3’s and have reduced risk of contamination. Of course, wild-caught salmon is another wonderful fish to add to your weekly meal plans, as it has been shown to reduce inflammation.
Aim to include 2 servings of fish in your diet per week! Diversity is key (just like with all foods), so be sure to switch it up and get creative.
Dark leafy greens
This includes spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, arugula… need I go on? There are a variety of greens to choose from. Even if you completely despise the taste of some of those deeper greens (yes, even adults still dislike veggies), choosing darker lettuce leaves, or blending up spinach into a smoothie are easy trades.
These greens are all rich in magnesium! Magnesium has a host of benefits, including healthy muscle and nerve function, and relaxation of blood vessels.
Beets (greens included)
Beets contain something called nitrate, which converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a potent antioxidant that also supports your mitochondrial cells. It also helps to relax and widen your blood vessels, allowing for proper blood flow.
This is also a reason why athletes often use beetroot juice to support performance and recovery.
Berries are very high in polyphenols, which are a class of antioxidants. Studies have shown that adding berries, like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries, have been shown to lower inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress (1). Both of which are important to support a healthy heart!
A few foods to avoid:
Processed meats: Many processed meats contain nitrites - not to be confused with the nitrates mentioned above.
Refined carbohydrates: most of these contain large amounts of white sugar, or carbohydrates that can increase blood sugar levels and overall inflammation in the body.
Burned foods: while I do love a good grilled hamburger, eating foods like this too often can increase free radical damage as these foods can become carcinogenic.
Most processed foods: if it comes in a bag, box, or any kind of package, check the label before you buy it. Many of the ingredients can be damaging to our heart, and entire body!
Rhiannon is the Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Integrative. She has a passion for making healthy eating easy, accessible and fun, loves getting outside, and enjoys spending time with her dog, Chloe!