Not only can you protect your heart with every meal you eat…you can even snack you way to a healthier heart.
When is comes to fighting heart disease, the mighty apple is still the king.
Apples frequently feature in heart health studies, and it’s no wonder. When compared to the most commonly consumed fruit in the U.S., apples rank second only to cranberries in antioxidant activity. They’re also filled with pectin, a fiber that interacts with other phytonutrients found in apples to deliver a host of cardiovascular benefits.
How they help: Quercetin and other apple antioxidants combat oxidative stress that can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems, while pectin helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, a precursor and contributor to heart disease. Apples are also anti-inflammatory, which helps support overall vascular health.
Snack smart: All apple varieties deliver these heart-protective nutrients, but red apples boast the most antioxidant power.
2. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Studies have linked regular consumption of legumes with a 22 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.
How they help: All beans are a good bet for heart health, but garbanzo beans are the winner when it comes to reducing your risk of coronary heart disease. They’re packed with soluble fiber — which helps lower cholesterol — in addition to heart-protective antioxidants, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Snack smart: Aim for four servings a week. Grab hummus and whole-wheat pita on the go, or snack on whole chickpeas right from the can (look for brands that list only these three ingredients: garbanzo beans, water, sea salt).
Researchers have found that regular consumption of nuts is associated with a 37 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Why almonds? They’re packed with more cardioprotective nutrients than just about any other nut (walnuts are a close second).
How they help: Almonds are filed with heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium. Magnesium contributes to healthy blood pressure, and potassium is essential for helping your heart pump blood. Almonds are also rich in monounsaturated fat — the healthy kind — which has been associated with lower levels of heart disease in countless studies.
Snack smart: Reach for plain raw almonds or top an apple with a tablespoon of unsweetened almond butter. Work four servings a week into your routine to give your heart health a boost.