We’re tempted by high-calorie foods, but they should always be an occasional treat, not everyday fare. Eating too many foods high in fat and sodium can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women and men in the U.S.

The American Heart Association says a heart-healthy diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, with whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats and poultry, fish at least twice a week, and fat-free or 1-percent fat dairy products.

“Most of us want to keep our hearts healthy,” said registered dietitian Fran Williams. “But the question remains, how do we do that?”
Williams, an outpatient dietitian at Kentucky’s Central Baptist Hospital, said that with all the information out there, it can be difficult to be sure we are doing the right thing for our hearts. She gives us a guide by listing her top 10 heart-healthy super foods, and why they should play a major role in our diets.
Fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids. Those include salmon, tuna and sardines. “Your heart loves omega-3s. These healthy fats reduce incidents of cardiovascular disease, help lower blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.”
Beans – black, white, red, kidney – are loaded with soluble fiber, which lowers LDL cholesterol. Aim for 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day (you need 25 to 30 grams of total fiber a day).
Soybeans. “I especially like edamames, young, immature soybeans, steamed in their pods,” Williams said.

Oats are another great source for soluble fiber.

Skim milk and yogurt are low in fat and high in calcium. “We all know that we need calcium for our bones, but did you know that calcium helps with keeping our hearts beating regularly?” she said.

Berries – blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, lingonberries, raspberries, cherries – are loaded with phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and fiber. “And, let’s throw in a pomegranate, too,” Williams said. “Think color.”

Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids. “They also are high in calories, so stop at a small handful,” she said.

Flaxseed is high in omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber. It is best to grind your flaxseed and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer.

Brussels sprouts are high in soluble fiber.

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, but it’s still fat, so go easy.

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Have a healthy and fit day!