Foods to Support Heart Health Popcorn: This movie theater staple can help promote heart health with its antioxidant content. Gram for gram, popcorn has three times more polyphenols (antioxidant providers) than kidney beans but don't take this as the green light to have it everyday. This treat is to be enjoyed in moderation and, sadly, without the generous portion of butter that is usually added at the theater. Try to choose light or no butter versions and go easy on the salt. Here's an additional bonus for enjoying this antioxidant and heart healthy snack: because it is a whole grain, popcorn could help keep you leaner! Studies have shown that people who eat plenty of whole grains tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of heart disease than those who don't! Chocolate and Red Wine: While you may already be aware that these "fun" foods can help support heart health, reminders never hurt! When enjoyed in moderation, wine can help to protect the heart by raising HDL (good) cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and thin blood to help prevent the clots that cause heart attack and stroke. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa solids, has shown promise in lowering blood pressure because of a compound it contains called epicatechin. This compound boosts nitric oxide which keeps blood pressure and inflammation down. Yogurt: Are you adding this heart healthy food to your diet? This may seem like a round-about way to support heart health but stay with me on this one! Yogurt is beneficial in protecting against gum disease; but what does this have to do with supporting your heart? Research shows that, when left unchecked, gum disease greatly elevates a person's risk for heart disease. Didn't see that one coming, did you? Think of how often you floss your teeth to support gum health or how well you brush each day-- does that encourage you to increase your intake of yogurt? Berries: You may have also heard that berries are beneficial for heart health but maybe you don't know why. Aside from being rich in antioxidants, berries have been associated with lowering blood pressure and increasing HDL (good) levels of cholesterol. To see these benefits, add a cup of mixed berries to your daily diet for eight weeks. That may seem like a large task but think of how well that cup of berries a day is supporting your heart! With so many types, you won't be able to get bored with what the berry of the day is! Keep in mind that all antioxidant rich foods, "fun" or not, are your best bet in supporting heart health. Antioxidants sweep disease-causing free radicals from your system and help to keep your body functioning without the threat of serious disease or other negative manifestations. Unfortunately, free radicals are a fact of modern-day life but by incorporating these fun foods into your diet, you can support heart health deliciously! Another helpful tip is to try to increase your intake of whole grains and get regular exercise. Our hearts work tirelessly each day for us; give your heart the nutrition and support it needs.
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