February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on maintaining or improving cardiovascular health. For an instant boost of heart-loving nutrients, regularly include these foods in your cart and on your plate.
Avocados are one of the only fruits that contribute monounsaturated “good” fats and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. These “good fats” can help improve the intake of dietary fat without raising LDL cholesterol levels. Go beyond guacamole and use mashed avocado on toast, cubed avocado on salads and eggs, or sliced avocado in wraps and sandwiches.
Walnuts have more omega-3s than any other tree nut (2.5g/oz of ALA). One ounce of walnuts also offers 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Their nutty flavor and texture make them a versatile plant-based protein that adds a heart-smart boost to sweet and savory recipes.
Whole-grain oats supply beta-glucan – a soluble fiber that binds some LDL cholesterol in your digestive tract and keeps it from entering your bloodstream. Enjoy one bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal a day to consume two grams of this beneficial fiber towards the overall recommendation of at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard supply potassium, calcium and magnesium – all nutrients linked to heart health and blood pressure regulation. This vegetable family also delivers folic acid, which may lower risk factors associated with heart disease. Include leafy greens in soups, salads, casseroles, pasta and more.
Strawberries and blueberries are high in a plant nutrient called anthocyanin, which lowers blood pressure and protects blood vessels. Both are also high in fiber, supplying three grams per cup of sliced strawberries and four grams per cup of blueberries. Add berries to parfaits, overnight oatmeal, beverages or enjoy them on their own.