Why you need to include these heart healthy foods in your diet – Green Bay Press Gazette

Posted: January 27, 2020 at 5:44 am

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Eric Gorder, For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Published 9:18 a.m. CT Jan. 24, 2020

Heart healthy foods include berries, avocado, whole grains and leafy greens.(Photo: Alicia Devine/Democrat)

As we burn through January at warp speed, we will soon embark on February, American Heart Month a month of focus on heart disease prevention.

While most everyone is still focused on their New Years resolutions, this is a great time to start thinking about and changing the foods you are putting into your bodies. Many articles will come out in February pertaining to what the top five, 10 or 15 foods are to strengthen and protect your heart. I thought it would be interesting and fun to take it a step further with those popular heart healthy foods and tell you why they are important for you.

Leafy greens are high in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin K, which helps protect arteries.

Whole grains are high in fiber, which is strongly linked to reducing bad cholesterol (LDL), and helps reduce inflammation.

Berries are super high in antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation which contribute to heart disease.

Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which also help lower bad LDL cholesterol. They are also super high in potassium aiding in cholesterol management.

Walnuts are another super food in that the high amount of monounsaturated fats help lower your bad LDL cholesterol.

Careful with this one! Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which help boost heart health, but only in small amounts and it needs to be 70% or higher in cocoa.

Tomatoes are another superfood in that they contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that promotes HDL, good, cholesterol.

Seeds are surprisingly high in fiber. They also have omega-3 fatty acids which help control blood pressure and cholesterol.

Like dark chocolate, edamame are high in flavonoids which help to control overall cholesterol levels.

Known for its ability to increase fat burning and improve insulin sensitivity, green tea is also very high in polyphenols and catechins, helping to prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.

Notice, all of these foods are whole, unprocessed and available year-round. There is also a common theme of high fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and plenty of phytochemicals that help balance your LDL and HDL for a healthier total cholesterol. Most are very impactful in small amounts and combined with moderate exercise and a complete diet low in sugar will help protect your heart, control your weight and have you bragging all the way home from your most recent health checkup.

Do yourself a favor and incorporate these foods into your daily meal plans. Youll set a great example for your family and bulletproof yourself from the leading cause of death in the United States heart disease.

Eric Gorder is the senior healthy living director for Greater Green Bay YMCA and a certified corrective exercise specialist. Reach him at 920-436-9667 or eric.gorder@greenbayymca.org.

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Why you need to include these heart healthy foods in your diet - Green Bay Press Gazette

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January 27th, 2020 at 5:44 am