Due to our recent lifestyle changes for more healthy foods in our diets, I did some research and found that these foods are really great for our heart wellness. Our hearts and body will thank us if we incorporate some of these foods into our daily diet:
This freshwater fish contains a lot of heart healthy nutrients such as Omega-3 acids. It is the doctors’ advice that we should consume foods rich with Omega-3 at least twice a week for good health especially the heart. This fish is extremely delicious too and can be prepared various ways, baked, grilled, steamed, smoked or better still, sliced thinly and served raw as sashimi with soya sauce and wasabi.
Oats is a whole grain which contains Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, calcium and soluble fiber. It has been proven to lower cholesterol levels, aids bowel movement (great for constipation) and may even help to prevent certain cancers. It is also great for dieters as it fills you up easily because of its fiber and cuts down hunger pangs. Oatmeal can be prepared with some hot water and milk and fruits as garnishing or it can be used as ingredients for baked foods such as cookies, cakes and bread. Otherwise, it can also be used in replacement of breadcrumbs.
3. Soy protein
This can be in the form of soy milk, tofu or even the Japanese green soybeans (edamame). Soy contains isoflavones (a flavonoid), B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phytoestrogens. It is known to combat LDL (or bad) cholesterol which means it is good to prevent heart disease. You can easily purchase boxed soy milk at supermarkets to drink it as replacement of conventional milk and coffee. To make it even tastier, you can use it to make a smoothie. Just mix it with some fruits, ice and blend it all.
4. Blueberries / cranberries/ strawberries / raspberries
These tiny wonder berries contain beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), anthocyanin (a flavonoid), ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Since it is not easy to find most of these berries except for strawberries (which is plenty in Camerons) in Malaysia, I guess you will really have to look at the imported fruits sections or even the frozen foods section. As far as I know, Tesco do have some fresh blueberries and even cranberries and raspberries occasionally. These fruits are best eaten mixed with cereals and oatmeal. It can be eaten as it is or added to your soy milk smoothie for extra flavour.
Yep, Popeye the Sailorman got it right! This dark green leafy vegetable contains lutein (a carotenoid), B-complex vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber. It is also easy to cook and is great stir fried with anchovies (ikan bilis) Chinese style or baked as a quiche or even added raw to salads.
It contains Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestrogens. It is known to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. You can ground it and add it to your morning cereal, yogurt or even to your baked foods such as cookies, muffins and cakes.
7. Almonds and walnuts
These nuts are great as snacks and on top of that, they are also healthy because they contain plant omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, mono- and polyunsaturated fats and phytosterols. You can also add almonds/ walnuts to brownies, to your breakfast cereals or as toppings for oatmeal / yogurt.
These fruits that are often mistaken as a vegetable are packed with beta and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids), Vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber. It can be eaten as it is, added to salads / sandwiches, cooked in certain curries, pureed and use as spaghetti sauce or simply to make salsa.
9. Brown rice
Instead of the normal white rice, why not replace it with brown rice instead? There are really good brands with delicious brown rice that taste even better than plain white rice. Brown rice contains B-complex vitamins, fiber, niacin and magnesium. It is also great for those on a diet as it is complex carbohydrate and takes longer to digest. All of my recipes for rice (burdock rice & mixed bean rice) and porridge are using brown rice.
10. Dark chocolate
Yes, the last is always the best! Studies have shown that dark chocolate (with more than 70% cocoa content) is great for the heart and lowers blood pressure because of its flavonols.
This simple list of 10 heart healthy foods may contain some that are imported and expensive but I alway felt that you can’t put a price on foods that are good for your health. In the long run, it will probably save you on medical costs and of course, save your life. Other than consuming heart healthy foods, it is also best to maintain a healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, enough rest and less consumption of unhealthy foods.