My Top Five Heart Healthy Foods for 2022
February is heart month! A spotlight has been shone on our mind-body since the pandemic. As we move into year three of dealing with a global pandemic, people are craving fun experiences and the opportunity to celebrate. Why not celebrate heart month! We know including heart healthy nutrient dense foods daily is vital in maintaining and supporting our cardiovascular system. Let’s explore my top five heart healthy foods for 2022.
I am a huge fan of barley ! This homegrown grain has an appealing chewy texture and nutty taste. Barley is a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Barley, like oats, is approved for a health claim by Health Canada. The claim states that eating barley helps to reduce blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. It is also a prebiotic food and is a source of the micronutrients folate, zinc, potassium and B vitamins.
Use barley in the same dishes you use rice or quinoa in. It can be cooked on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, instapot, slow cooker or in the oven.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are full of important nutrients that support heart health. Rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, these compounds help decrease oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease. Berries also have fibre that support our overall wellness including heart health.
Strawberries are identified with Valentine’s Day for being red, heart shaped and succulent! Why not dip these nutritious beauties in melted dark chocolate or add them to your breakfast all February long?
Right now, people are craving fun experiences and celebrations! Plus, there is the love holiday – Valentine’s Day in heart month. As a result, dark chocolate made my top five heart healthy foods for 2022. Cocoa is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids that support heart health. It’s important to choose a quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70% and don’t over do it on your consumption.
Therefore, if you’re eating dark chocolate daily for the heart health benefits, aim for one ounce (28 grams) of the high-quality stuff with at least 70% cocoa, and not the common candy bar kind with the extra fat and sugar.
Seeds in general pack powerful heart healthy nutrients. Adding these tiny but mighty nutritious powerhouses daily can support heart health. Specifically, flaxseeds are another homegrown crop that makes my top five heart healthy foods for 2022. Flaxseeds have fibre, phytochemicals (lignans), and omega-3 fatty acids, all nutrients that assist your heart. For example, consuming flaxseeds as part of healthy dietary pattern and fitness plan may help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels well managed.
Grind flaxseed for maximum benefit. Then add it to cereal, yogurt, salads, your favourite meatball recipe, homemade bread, and baked goods.
Eating walnuts daily is good for our overall health. They have many beneficial nutrients including omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid), fibre and a good source of magnesium that help decrease inflammation in the body. Also, walnuts offer plant-based protein. As a result, consuming walnuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern may decrease your chance of elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglycerides. Conditions that are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
It is suggested to eat 4 to 7 whole walnuts (out of the shell!) daily for optimal heart health benefits. Enjoy them as a snack with dark chocolate and strawberries for heart month
My Top Five Heart Healthy Foods for 2022 – Final Thoughts
These are my top five heart healthy foods with an honourable mention of fatty fish and marine omega-3 oil (fish or algae). Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied extensively for their heart-health benefits.
Most importantly, including these heart healthy foods as part of a nutritious, well-balanced dietary pattern can help keep your heart ticking well and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day.