Snacking is one of America’s favorite hobbies, and for good reason. The next time you enjoy everyone’s favorite meal-between-meals, try the following items for a healthier heart.
Keeping your heart healthy isn’t just a concern for the elderly anymore. Heart disease can strike anytime and anywhere. It certainly doesn’t help that most of today’s food products are steeped in sodium, saturated fat, and trans-fats.
These are three things that can stress a healthy ticker faster than you can say “Twinkie”. Luckily, you can combat heart disease much in the same way that most people cause it, and that is through snacking. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or a slice of pie next time you’re hungry, try the following heart healthy items.
1 Dark Chocolate
Think of dark chocolate as milk chocolate’s older, more refined brother. Some people may find it to be an acquired taste, but few items can compete with its unique nutritional benefits. In fact, eating dark chocolate on a regular basis can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by over 20%.
This is because the darker the chocolate, the higher its concentration of Cocoa. Cocoa is full of flavanols, which help reduce blood pressure and prevent clogged arteries. Stick to small, daily portions however as dark chocolate is still high in saturated fat which can counteract its benefits.
Grapes have been a snack-time staple for centuries, as kings were fed them on their throne. to Practically every kid who packs their own lunch in elementary school eats grapes too. Considering that they are extremely high in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, various flavonoids and Potassium, the more the merrier. Grapes actually lower your cholesterol, promote healthy blood pressure, and aid your heart in pumping blood. Most of these effects are due to their potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which remain intact in even frozen grapes.
This Mediterranean food is extremely high in fiber, which is an integral component of any healthy diet. Fiber helps keep you full and actually regulates your cholesterol levels at the same time. Yet it is the high Potassium content that makes Figs excellent for your heart. Countless studies have linked Potassium intake to good heart health and proper blood pressure. Fresh figs are seasonal and often extremely hard to come by depending on your geographical location, but dried figs make an excellent alternative.
Practically any sort of nuts can make a great snack on the go. The next time you’re trying to decide on which one to eat, try Walnuts. They’re high in Vitamin E (a potent heart-healthy antioxidant), Potassium, Magnesium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which few people are actually getting enough of, do wonders for everything from your skin to your brain (and yes, your heart).
Walnuts also lower your bad cholesterol (LDL), help prevent plaque from clogging your arteries, and reduce inflammation. A good portion of Walnuts’ nutrients are found in their skin, so be sure to go for the whole, raw variety. Avoid overly-salted nuts as high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure.