Heart-Smart Nutrition: 5 Must-Have Food Items for your Shopping Cart

What foods are best for your heart?

When it comes to your heart health, the goal is to reduce bad cholesterol. March is National Nutrition Month, so keep that in mind the next time you're at the grocery store. Shop for these 5 ingredients that protect the heart from cardiovascular disease.

1. Fish, according to the American Heart Association, provides vital protein without the saturated fats you'll find in red meat. Fish excel in omega-3 fatty acids, the famed nutrient that lowers triglyceride levels and blood pressure and prevents plaque from forming. That said, choose fish wisely to avoid pollutants like mercury. The smaller the fish, the safer it is to eat.

2. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a complete protein, high in fiber and monounsaturated (good) fat which make it perfect for the heart-conscious eater. It’s packed with antioxidants and, unlike some vegetables and grains, cooking quinoa reduces little of its nutritional value. Add it to everything from your morning oatmeal to your favorite muffins or cookies. It's often next to couscous in the grains aisle.

3. Garlic drops total cholesterol in the short term, preventing heart disease. How you prepare garlic makes a difference. Crush or chop and let it sit for about 10 minutes before adding it to your recipe. Waiting allows powerful enzymes to “activate” and provide you with maximum benefits.

4. Beans are high in fiber and antioxidants. In addition, beans contain great levels of folic acid and vitamin B6, which combat homocysteine. Toss them in everything from rice to your morning scrambled eggs.

5. Kiwi is a colossus when it comes to nutritional value. It contains nearly double the vitamin C of an orange, vitamin E, which benefits the heart, along with fiber and photonutrients. No wonder they call it a super fruit. It adds sweetness and flavor to yogurt and tastes amazing in baked goods and salads.

Stock up in these five power foods and reap the healthy benefits. Visit Denton Regional Medical Center online for more health information or call us at (855) 477-DRMC (3762) for a physician referral.

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