February is full of heart—it’s American Heart Awareness month and is also host to the most romantic day of the year—Valentine’s Day. These heart-centric celebrations call attention to the largest muscular organ in our bodies which supports our physical and emotional well-being. February is a good time to consider our lifestyles and think about how we can improve our heart health and our longevity.
Poor nutrition, smoking and stress are core components contributing to heart disease. We know that following a healthy diet and exercise program is important to maintain overall health, but what foods should you focus on to support heart health?
Per the American Heart Association report titled Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease
, "Omega-3 fatty acids show in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce the incidence of CVD (cardiovascular disease).
Mother Nature has generously provided us with a wide range of accessible heart-healthy foods containing omega-3s. Certain nutrient-rich foods, such as chia and flaxseed, also have a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid which cannot be produced by our bodies.
Although no single food is a cure-all, specific foods have been shown to improve our heart health so—let’s take a look!5 Heart-Healthy Foods:
- Chia Seed – Raw, baked or sprinkled on dishes, it’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Try this Strawberry Chia Smoothie Bowl for a delicious way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet.
- Flaxseed – Abundant whole food source of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) also high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and other nutrients.
- Wild Salmon, Sardines, Albacore Tuna – Great for lunch or dinner these fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Walnuts & Almonds – These nuts are rich in omega-3 fats, vitamin E and folate.
- Watermelon – This juicy fruit is packed with nutrients. Carotenoids, lycopene and beta carotene neutralize free radicals to promote a healthy heart.