Salmon and other fatty fish — These coldwater fish are one of the richest sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats can decrease your risk of arrhythmias, reduce your triglyceride levels, decrease blood pressure and slow the formation of plaque in your blood vessels. Enjoy at least two servings of fish weekly, preferably fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and lake trout.
Serving Tip: Poached salmon with dill - place 1 lb salmon fillet skin side down in microwave dish, add ¼ cup white wine or water, spritz olive oil and sprinkle dried dill on salmon, cover and microwave 2-3 minutes.
Flaxseed — These tiny seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, too, as well as fiber and phytoestrogens called lignans. Make sure you use ground flaxseed and store the package in your refrigerator to prevent those healthy fats from going bad. A little goes a long way and you only need about 1-2 teaspoons daily.
Serving Tip: Sprinkle ground flaxseed on hot breakfast cereal, add it to yogurt, or mix it into casseroles and meatloaf.
Oats — The soluble fiber found in oats is especially good at binding with cholesterol and reducing its absorption in your body. It therefore helps to lower your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in beans, barley, lentils, apples, pears, and ground flaxseed.
Serving Tip: To beat the morning rush, try cooking steel cut oats in a crockpot overnight. And if your oatmeal is starting to feel a little bland, try adding stir-ins such as 2 tablespoon dried cranberries or raisins and 1 tablespoon sliced almonds.
Beans — Beans are good for your heart thanks to their soluble fiber content. A 1/2-cup serving contains 6-7 grams of total fiber (1-3 grams of which is soluble fiber). Enjoy 3-5 servings each week.
Serving Tip: No time to cook up a batch, don’t worry. Use your favorite canned variety, just drain and rinse for 1 minute under tap water to remove up to 40% of the sodium. Then add them to your favorite soup or casserole; or on top of your lunch-time salad.
Nuts — Go nuts. Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts — all nuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce your LDL cholesterol level. Nuts have also been shown to promote the feeling of fullness when trying to lose weight. However, portion size is the key. Enjoy a 1-ounce portion (about ¼ cup) 3-5 times a week.
Serving Tip: Choose unsalted or lightly salted nuts whenever possible. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of your yogurt, breakfast cereal or salad, or coat baked fish or chicken with a layer of coarsely ground nuts.
Dark leafy greens — Spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, bok choy and other dark, leafy greens are filled with the antioxidant lutein. Preliminary research indicates this carotenoid may protect against plaque buildup and prevent clogging of the arteries. Plus, these leafy greens also provide the body with fiber, folate, potassium and calcium, which all promote heart health.
Serving Tip: Go green! Sauté ½ to 1 cup matchstick carrots and 1 clove chopped garlic in 2 teaspoons olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add 6 to 9 ounces freshly washed baby spinach cook until wilted, season with lemon juice if desired.
Low-Fat dairy products — Numerous studies are showing that dairy products, when consumed appropriately, can benefit the heart. It appears that dairy products and fermented dairy products like yogurt can help lower blood pressure and improve your lipid profile. But the key is to select varieties that are lower in saturated fat: skim or 1% milk, nonfat yogurt, and low-fat cheeses. These foods are packed with calcium, protein and much-needed vitamin D. Aim for 2-3 servings daily.
Serving Tip: Dress up plain nonfat yogurt with ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract and fresh, in-season fruit. If you want a little sweet try adding a low-cal sweetener or no more than 1 teaspoon honey.
To sign up for a Healthy Heart Class at Rader Clinic, call Beth Triner at 703-696-7930.