Strengthen your heart for breakfast to dinner—and dessert!
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Why: The soluble fiber in oatmeal has been proven to lower levels
of the bad cholesterol LDL by slowing its absorption into the bloodstream.
Look for: href="http://www.fitsugar.com/Comparison-Steel-Cut-Oats-Old-Fashioned-Oats-
Quick-Oats-5321167">Steel-cut oats for the most fiber. Steer clear of
most fast-food options because of their high sugar or calorie content. target="_blank"
five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day to get this heart-healthy
benefit; a cup and a half of oatmeal is the equivalent of about six grams
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Why: The leafy green is known as a superfood for a reason ‹ it's
got a bit of everything when it comes to nutrients, like omega-3s, fiber,
and antioxidants, to name a few. Kale also contains a compound called
glucoraphanin, which may help href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_DietAndFitnessResource/top-heart-healt
hy-foods/story?id=15506064">prevent plaque from building up in your
Look for: Steamed kale. To get the most heart-healthy effects from
kale, try steaming it, so that the fiber compounds can bind together
better. Not only does steaming help bring out kale's cholesterol-lowering
abilities, but it can also make the leafy green taste less bitter than
when it is eaten raw. For a health benefit, eat one and a half cups of
kale (as well as other cruciferous veggies) two to three times a week.
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Why: Much seafood, especially salmon, contains omega-3 fatty acids,
which are proven to help prevent heart disease as we age. A study found
that younger women who didn't eat fish and other sources of omega-3s target="_blank"
-never-too-early-to-develop-a-taste-for-sardines/">had the highest
risk of developing heart conditions.
Look for: Oily fish like sardines, anchovies, or rainbow trout,
which contain the highest levels of omega-3. Eat two servings of the fish
per week for a heart-healthy benefit. If you don't eat seafood, try these
href="http://www.fitsugar.com/Top-10-Vegetarian-Sources-Omega-3s-9206175">fish-free sources of omega-3s.
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Why: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and more ‹ they all have high
levels of unsaturated fats, which help your liver produce more "good"
cholesterol (HDL). Nuts also contain compounds that help block the
absorption of cholesterol from foods you eat.
Look for: About one ounce of nuts, or 22 almonds, a day to
experience the cholesterol-lowering effect, according to most research.
That potion is href="http://www.fitsugar.com/Calories-Nuts-9436487">about 200
calories. Nuts may be healthy, but they also can be fattening if you
don't watch the portions.
Dessert: Dark Chocolate
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Why: It's sweet, it's delicious, and it's good for you. target="_blank"
chocolate has been proven to lower blood pressure by increasing blood
flow and improving heart function.
Look for: Dark chocolate, which wins when it comes to health
benefits since it's got more cacao content than milk chocolate (as well as
less fat and sugar). So choose a dark chocolate that's got a high cacao
percentage and don't go overboard ‹ a square per day is the amount
recommended to get a heart-healthy benefit.