Heart-shaped foods keep your ticker happy
February is heart month so many nutrition experts are talking about the benefits of heart-healthy foods. The usual suspects include salmon, red wine and dark chocolate. Recently, however, a nutrition professor found the list incomplete and gave it an update. The newest additions? Heart-shaped foods.
“Being red and heart-shaped can be a tip-off that some foods are good for your heart,” said assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics Katie Eliot in a statement. “Many heart-shaped fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants. These compounds act like shields, taking the hit from free radicals that otherwise damage the body and cause heart disease and cancer,” said Eliot of Saint Louis University in St. Louis.
Eliot explains how the following foods serve your ticker well:
- Strawberries and raspberries: Loaded with vitamin C and polyphenol, an antioxidant that prevents plaque from forming on blood vessels
- Cherries: Contain anthocyanin, which protects blood vessels and is high in potassium, which lowers blood pressure
- Tomatoes and red peppers: Rich in lycopene, commonly found in many red fruits and veggies, which neutralizes free radicals
- Acorn squash and apples: Full of fiber, which reduces bad cholesterol that can clog your arteries and cause heart attacks and stroke
Catherine LaBella, registered dietitian at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., says that although these foods are helpful, remember to think holistically when it comes to your diet.
“While red fruits and vegetables provide a number of health benefits,” says LaBella, “we do encourage patients to eat a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables. Brightly colored vegetables are often richer in antioxidants. So aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, remembering that red, heart-shaped foods are just one component of a healthy diet.”
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