Dr. Nichole Nygren
Feb 1, 2023
Your heart will thank you!
February is a great time to remind us to nurture our hearts. Not just emotionally, but physically too. One way to do that is with healthy eating—and that starts with making healthy food choices, especially when snacking. Make it a goal to eat several of these foods weekly all month long.
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oatmeal. Rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium, oatmeal is a superfood that can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and protect arteries. Add in some fresh blueberries and a touch of pure maple syrup and you have a great breakfast!
2. Dark chocolate
Everyone wants permission to eat more chocolate! Just skip the Snickers and choose antioxidant-rich dark chocolate instead. Studies show that dark chocolate may improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and have a beneficial effect on cholesterol. (Recommended 70% or higher dark chocolate.)
3. Apple chips
High in heart-healthy antioxidants, pectin and other phytonutrients, apples deliver a host of cardiovascular benefits. They have a nice crunch and are much healthier than chips!
4. Coconut chips
Coconut is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which have many potential heart-health benefits. It also contains healthy fats and fiber.
5. Raisins, dried cranberries
Dehydrated fruit has had all of the water removed, leaving a nutrient-dense portable snack. Dried cranberries, raisins, dates and apricots are loaded with heart-healthy micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants. If you have a sweet tooth after eating a meal, this is a healthy fix!
6. Nuts and seeds
Nuts contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine, which can all have positive effects on heart health. Many brands have them packaged into perfect little servings.
7. Almond butter
An excellent source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, almond butter also contains anti-oxidant Vitamin E. Great for dipping your carrots and celery in!
Just 1 cup of pitted, sweet cherries provides 10% of the DV for potassium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your heart healthy. It's needed to maintain a regular heartbeat and helps remove excess sodium from your body, regulating your blood pressure.
9. Dried Chickpeas
Including chickpeas in your diet may play a role in reducing risk of heart disease, with the added benefit of helping you feel fuller longer. That’s important when it comes to snacking! Chickpeas contain soluble fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol, and are an excellent source of protein, magnesium, zinc, copper and some B vitamins. If you've never tried them, they're excellent to snack on!
Avocados are a potent source of nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Research suggests that adding an avocado a day to a heart-healthy diet can help improve LDL cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese. Slice them up and add to sandwiches or mush them up into guac!
There you have it! My top 10 favorite heart healthy snacks.