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Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

HEALTH GOES STRONG
ROBYN FLIPSE

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don't like. That doesn't mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named "heart-healthy" foods are found in many other more palatable options.

Heart Healthy Foods: Canned Sardines
Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.

Heart Healthy Foods: Black Beans
Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.

Heart Healthy Foods: Raisins
Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.

Heart Healthy Foods: Popcorn
Whole grains don't just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It's very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it's prepared without excess salt and oil.

Heart Healthy Foods: Fat Free Milk
Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which helps maintain the fluid balance in the body and helps the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.

Heart Healthy Foods: Plant Stanols and Sterols
These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is a valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.