February is American Heart Month, a reminder that healthy foods should be at, well, the heart of your diet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for adults in the United States, with one person dying from cardiovascular disease every six seconds. While the statistics are grim, there’s a lot you can do to support your heart’s health, beginning with the foods you choose.
This month, make things a little easier on your body’s hardest-working muscle by nourishing it with a few of our favorite heart-healthy foods.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies
You probably expected “the rainbow” to be at the top of this list, but the importance of eating fresh produce simply can’t be understated. Fresh foods are low in calories and high in vitamin and mineral content, making them the foundation of a healthy diet. You know how much we love our glorious greens, but be sure to get reds, yellows, oranges, and blues on your plate, too. Each one has a unique nutritional makeup, so you should prioritize variety.
Not all fats are created equal. While saturated fats are closely linked with heart disease, there are other, healthier fats that make for smarter swaps. Whether you use it as a dip, rub, or topping, olive oil has a proven track record when it comes to heart health. This healthy fat packs in antioxidants, which can relieve inflammation and decrease the risk of chronic disease. Extra-virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which work in your body to prevent damage caused by free radicals that can harm cells, including those that make up the walls of your arteries. Another healthy fat to add to your diet comes from fish, such as tuna, salmon, trout, or mackerel. Like olive oil, the omega-3 fatty acids these fish contain can help ward off damaging inflammation inside the body.
Who says carbs can’t be good for you? Whole grains – like whole wheat, rye, oats, brown rice, and quinoa – may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease heart disease risk.
Nuts and Seeds
Mixed nuts and seeds aren’t just filling snacks: they’re heart-healthy options as well. Nutrient-dense and rich in fiber, polyunsaturated fats, and protein, nuts keep you full and make it easier to avoid high-processed foods. Some seeds – like hemp and flax – have also been shown to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control when ingested regularly.
This isn’t an excuse to raid the Valentine’s Day candy aisle, but studies show that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can support heart health while curbing your sugar craving. Talk about a win-win!
This month, show yourself some love with a healthy meal at The Juice Hive. Whether you join us for a smoothie, salad, or cold-pressed juice or pick up a few better-for-you snacks at our Emporium, we have a wide variety of delicious foods that will help you feel your best, inside and out. We’re open Mon-Fri (8 am-3 pm) and Sat (8 am-2 pm).