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The 10 Best Healthy Heart Foods
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Editor-In-Chief*
“Healthy heart foods” are foods that prevent your body from forming plaque, a waxy substance that builds up inside arteries and can eventually block them, causing a heart attack or a stroke.
Because dietary fat fosters plaque formation, such foods are usually low in fat. That’s why most of them are fruits and vegetables.
Since literally thousands of foods are low in fat, we can’t decide the 10 best healthy heart foods by fat content alone. To make the list, a food also had to be singularly rich in one or more of the special nutrients known to promote heart health. (By “rich” we mean containing large amounts per calorie.)
- Sardines, like most cold-water fish, are unusually rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Larger fish are higher in mercury, however. (If you don’t like sardines, go for mackerel, albacore tuna, or salmon.)
- Brazil nuts contain more selenium, a powerful antioxidant than almost any other food. (Most other nuts also qualify as healthy heart foods.)
- Sweet peppers are richer in vitamins A, B6, and C than any other food.
- Product 19® cereal is higher in vitamin E than two more commonly cited sources: wheat-germ oil and spinach.
- Garlic is unusually high in allicin. (So are onions and leeks.)
- Asparagus is richer in folic acid than any other vegetable.
- Green tea is one of the most powerful sources of flavinoids.
- Olive oil is primarily monounsaturated fat, the “good” fat that helps to prevent plaque formation.
- Tomatoes are a deservedly famous source of lycopene. (If you don’t like tomatoes, try watermelon.)
- Flaxseed oil is super-rich in phytoestrogens, a major ingredient of the most valuable healthy heart foods.
*Terry Dunkle is a 30-year veteran medical journalist and consumer advocate who serves as CEO and chief editor at DietPower, Inc., a leading maker of nutrition and weight-loss software.