Do You Stock a Heart-Healthy Kitchen?

Health Professional

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.

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  walnuts,  pistachios, 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.