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Five heart-healthy foods

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A heart-healthy meal delivers a powerful dose of nutrients that prevent and repair cell damages. It often involves eating more fruits and vegetables, having fish a little more, cutting down on saturated fats, trans fats and salt, and giving more notice to your fiber intake. For a healthy heart, you should limit your daily intake of total fat to 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories, and limit saturated fat to less or equal to 10 percent of your total calories. Sodium increases the blood pressure, creating an added burden on the heart. Too much sodium may also have other harmful health effects, including increased risk for stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease, according to American Heart Association. You should aim for a daily intake of 1500-2300 mg sodium.

Five foods you should incorporate into your meal include:

Beans, black, pinto, or kidney: rich in niacin, filate, magnesium, calcium, soluble fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests having just 1⁄2 cup of cooked pinto beans daily might lower cholesterol. Beans contain heart-protective chemicals, such as flavonoids, found in wine, berries and chocolate that inhibit the adhesion of platelets in the blood, and lower the risk for heart attack and strokes.

Salmon: rich in omega 3 fatty acids. No common fish delivers more of the omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Omega 3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory, help the immune system, protect against heart attack and arteries buildups, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots, and lower one’s triglyceride levels which contributes to blood clotting.

Fruits and vegetables: fruits such as papaya, cantaloupe, oranges, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries etc. are rich in vitamin C. Vitamins C, as an antioxidant, protects cells from free radical damage. While vegetables such as asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots etc are rich in carotenoids, polyphenol, B-complex vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium and fiber which help to protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol. Tomato especially is rich in lycopene, which is an added advantage.

Tomato-corn relish: cooked with canola oil and swapped red bell pepper, is rich in vitamin e. Vitamins E protects cells from free radical damage. Red bell pepper is rich in beta-carotene and lutein which are heart-protective antioxidants, B-complex vitamins and folate which protect against blood clots and hardening of the arteries, and potassium and fiber which lowers cholesterol levels.

Whole grain: good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Whole grains contain antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols that are protective against coronary disease. Phytoestrogens, weak estrogen-like, lower the risk of blood clots, stroke, cardiac arrhythmias and blood pressure. Phytosterols also reduces blood cholesterol.

You can download a FREE heart-healthy dinner recipe cookbook here!

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