20 Heart-Healthy and Slimming Foods

healthy olive oil

February is American Heart Month, designed to raise awareness of heart disease - the No. 1 killer of Americans each year. Fortunately, adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine that helps you shed pounds also can boost your cardiovascular health. Metabolic Research Center offers its top  20 suggestions.

  1. Citrus fruits: Frequent consumption can lower risk of ischemic stroke (caused by blood clots) by nearly 20 percent. Plus, vitamin C is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
  2. Blueberries: Rich in anthocyanins, antioxidant flavonoids that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.
  3. Tomatoes: High in heart-healthy potassium and rich in the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid that may help rid the body of bad cholesterol and keep blood vessels open.
  4. Extra-virgin olive oil: A good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  5. Avocado: Rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and potassium, the key factor that enables your heart to beat.
  6. Pomegranate: Contains numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries.
  7. Legumes: An excellent source of protein without a lot of unhealthy fat and may help control blood sugar.
  8. Broccoli: High in fiber, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds.
  9. Spinach: All the same benefits as broccoli offers.
  10. Kale: Ditto on the broccoli and spinach benefits, plus the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids.
  11. Cocoa: Contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting and inflammation.
  12. Nuts: High in heart-healthy fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol.
  13. Flax seeds: High in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  14. Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) and decrease triglycerides.
  15. Soy: Soy products are high in polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and can help decrease levels of bad cholesterol.
  16. Oatmeal: High in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol.
  17. Potatoes: Rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure, and high in fiber, which can lower the risk for heart disease.
  18. Red wine: When enjoyed in small amounts, red wine antioxidants can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protect against artery damage.
  19. Green tea: Four or more cups a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent.
  20. Coffee: Moderate consumption (two cups a day) can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30 percent. 

Keep your body trim and your heart strong by visiting your nearest Metabolic Research Center location. Call 800-501-8090 to speak with an experienced weight loss counselor today. 


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