Do You Stock a Heart-Healthy Kitchen?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • If you keep heart-healthy foods on hand and easily accessible, you will be much more likely to see success in your efforts to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. If you keep unhealthy foods within reach, you will make it much harder to achieve your heart health goals. Don’t rely on will power. Stock your kitchen for success!

     

    Here are some essentials to keep in your kitchen:

     

    Whole grains

     

    Whole grains, such as barley, oats, rice, buckwheat and quinoa, are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrient-dense grains promote a healthy heart.

     

    Olive oil

     

    Olive oil is considered a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s comprised of 14 percent saturated fat, 78 percent  monounsaturated fat and 8 percent polyunsaturated fat. The least processed forms of olive oil include “extra virgin” and “virgin.” It’s great for use with salads, soups, stews and steamed vegetables. If you need to prepare foods at higher temps, olive oil isn’t necessarily the best choice. So, it’s a good idea to keep canola oil on hand, too.

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    Fish

     

    To promote heart health, you should be consuming fish two to three times a week. Fish, such as salmon, sardines, trout, herring and tuna, contain the omega 3 fatty acid DHA, which is linked to many heart benefits. However, be mindful of the potential mercury content of some saltwater fish, including tuna.

     

    Fruits

     

    Fruits are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and flavonoids (a type of antioxidant). They also have naturally sweet flavors which make them great to have on hand for a quick snack or to incorporate into desserts.

     

    Flaxseed

     

    Flaxseed is high in fiber and the omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which promote healthy cholesterol levels and heart health. Try grinding flaxseed and sprinkling it on top of cereals, soups, salads or yogurt.

     

    Nuts

     

    Nuts are another excellent snack full of ALA, the omega 3 fatty acid that promotes heart health. Some of the best nut choices are walnutspistachios, and almonds. But you do need to watch portion sizes—nuts are high in calories, too. Don’t counteract the benefits by overindulging and gaining weight. 

     

    Legumes

     

     Another high-fiber source rich in vitamin B6 and magnesium, legumes come in a variety of forms– garbanzo beans, lentils, kidney beans, black beans and great northern beans. Add to soups, salads, casseroles and rice dishes.

     

Published On: June 19, 2012