Top Ten Foods for a Happy Heart

heart-healthy-foodsEating with your heart in mind might seem like an inconvenient or daunting task, but doctors insist you can reduce your risk of heart disease with a consistent diet of these fresh foods, full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants.

WebMD says fresh produce is the cornerstone for a heart-healthy diet. Those smart picks help wipe out free radicals in the bloodstream, protecting blood vessels.

Keeping a balance and variety of fresh produce is another key. “Everyone’s looking for that one magic food,” Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD Farrell tells WebMD. “But heart-healthy is not only about oatmeal and omega-3 fats. You need to look for ways to get all the different nutrients. Plus, you’ll stick to a heart-healthy lifestyle longer if you have variety.”

With that, here are some suggestions for some of the best fuel to keep your ticker at top notch.

Asparagus has anti-inflammatory nutrients like folate and vitamins C and D; it is also low in calories.

Avocado allows for the absorption of other carotenoids – especially beta-carotene and lycopene – which are essential for heart health.

Beans offer more protein than any other plant food, B vitamins, iron, and calcium. Plus, they are considered “nature’s scrub brush” because one serving’s 15 grams of fiber moves through the intestines, sops cholesterol and takes it away.

Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, both potent stress busters. Plus, they’re low in calories and sugar.

Broccoli is rich with B vitamins and folic acid, which has been shown to help relieve stress, anxiety, panic, and even depression.

Greens. Spinach, kale, dandelion greens, turnip tops, and Swiss chard are all wonderful foods that provide iron, lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, fiber…the list goes on…

Nuts. The best are almonds for Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E (an antioxidant that destroys the free radicals related to stress and heart disease), magnesium, and zinc and walnuts, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Oatmeal is a heart’s happiest breakfast, with omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, calcium, and soluble fiber. And it’s great paired with other heart favorites, like nuts and berries.

Salmon (and other fish) B vitamins, particularly the renowned stress fighters B6 and B12. Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon and tuna)

Sweet potatoes are packed with…color (indicative of a vitamin and anti-oxidant-rich food). They offer beta-carotene (a carotenoid), vitamins A, C, E and fiber.

And for dessert (if the blueberries and sweet potatoes weren’t enough…) dark chocolate (at least 75 percent cocoa; 85 percent is best). Cocoa contains phenols- antiseptic, anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce your risk of heart disease by keeping fat-like substances from oxidizing in the blood and clogging your arteries.