Five superfoods help keep heart healthy

| February 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

Shari Lopatin
TriWest Healthcare Alliance



PHOENIX — Certain foods can keep your heart pumping stronger and longer.

The American Dietetic Association, or ADA, and the “Nutrition Action Health Letter” offer the following top five superfoods for the heart. These superfoods not only make you feel good, but will protect against heart disease. Heart disease is the top killer of adults in the U.S.

•Beans. Each tiny bean, according to the ADA, has a powerful combination of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Researchers have found that diets including beans may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

•Salmon. The omega-3 fats in salmon can help reduce the risk of sudden-death heart attacks. Not into fish? Some other options to get omega-3 fats include walnuts, fresh ground flax seed and canola oil.

•Mushrooms. Stocked full of antioxidants that help protect cells from free radicals, which can lead to cancer and sometimes heart disease, mushrooms are a great source of potassium, copper and certain B vitamins.

•Garlic and onions. Research shows these two foods may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, control blood pressure, prevent life-threatening blood clotting, act as antioxidants to reduce cancer risk and even promote immunity. For the greatest benefit, use the actual vegetable and stay away from onion and garlic powders. You may need to eat one garlic clove daily to make a difference.

•Blueberries. These fun little berries are bursting with antioxidants. Besides fighting off heart disease and cancer, blueberries can also fight aging. They’re loaded with dietary fiber and vitamins A and C.

•Surprise superfood: dark chocolate! Eating heart-healthy can be a special treat, too. The ADA reports that recent research shows components of the cocoa bean and dark chocolate could positively impact the cardiovascular system, kidney function, brain health, immune system, diabetes and blood pressure.

In fact, dark chocolate may help limit the build-up of plaque in arteries by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.

To reap the health benefits of dark chocolate, make sure the chocolate has at least 70 percent cacao; otherwise, it’s just candy.

February is American Heart Month and a good time to learn about heart-healthy living tips at


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