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, 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.