5 foods to incorporate into a heart-healthy diet

5 foods to incorporate into a heart-healthy diet

What do antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids actually do to protect against heart disease?

PORTLAND, Maine — Certain foods can prevent inflammation in arteries and keep the blood pumping through our bodies. Onycha Carlson is a registered dietician who works with patients at Northern Light Health to form healthier diet plans. 

Carlson walked us through five foods you can incorporate into a more heart-healthy diet:

“Antioxidants work in the body to help decrease oxidation of the cells, so that will help keep the cells in the body healthy,” Carlson said, explaining why blueberries are great to incorporate into diets whenever and wherever you can.

“Any cellular damage that can happen can happen to the arteries and the heart muscle itself, so it helps decrease our risk of creating damage in the body.”

“There’s been a lot of research done, especially in recent years, about avocados and their link to heart health. According to the research, having at least two servings of avocado a week, which is one entire avocado, it decreases your risk significantly for heart disease-related risk,” Carlson said.

“They’re a great source of dietary fiber, as well as healthy fats.”

It’s worth noting, one serving size is half of an avocado. 

“Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate, a whole grain that’s also a really great source of dietary fiber that helps lower your LDL cholesterol in the bodythat’s what’s known as the bad cholesterol in the body.”

“That’s another food that has heart-healthy fats in it, specifically omega-3 fatty acids in that. What omega-3 fatty acids do in the body is they help decrease inflammation in the body. So any inflammation in the arteries surrounding the heart, that can decrease our risk for heart disease,” Carlson said about salmon. 

A recommended serving size for salmon is four ounces two times a week. If you’re unsure of what 4 oz. would look like, it’s about the size of a deck of cards.

“A lot of folks that I talk with don’t know about this product, they’re unfamiliar. It’s a great lean protein and in addition to being a complete protein source, it’s a complete source of fiber. It also contains something known as an isoflavone, which has been linked to improve heart health.”

Tempeh is almost like tofu, in the sense that you can marinate it and let it absorb the flavors of whatever dish you’re using it in. Some packages of tempeh need to be marinated overnight or at least for a few hours, while others are ready to use right out of the package. 

Carlson shared one more dish with us that she said could easily be a meal: a mango quinoa salad. 

“I bring it to almost every gathering I go to. It’s a great dish, great year round, it has mangoes, dried cranberries, different herbs, and vegetables, but then quinoa, which is also another complete protein source, which is lean and great for heart health,” Carlson said. 

“Every little bit counts when it comes to choosing the right foods for your heart health,” she added.

To see more heart-healthy recipes and tips for preparing dishes, click here

For more wellness tips, including meditations to try for better breathing, click here

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