14 Feb Foods for a Happy Heart
Happy Valentine’s Day! With all the heart decorations that are splattered everywhere for the holiday, we wanted to take time and celebrate the most important heart—the one in your body! Here are some foods that are sure to make your heart go pitter-patter:
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
It’s true—olive oil is high in fat. So how is it still healthy? Well, not all fats are created equal.
At the most basic level, there are three kinds of fats: unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. Unsaturated fats have numerous health benefits and can help with weight loss, reduce cholesterol, and lower your risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease. Olive oil is an unsaturated fat. Saturated fats, on the other hand, aren’t so good for you. Healthy foods may have a little bit of saturated fat, but not nearly as much as foods like ice cream, pizza, and cookies. Then you have trans fats, and these are the lowest on the fatty totem pole. You want to avoid these altogether. Back in 2006, a law was passed that required food companies to list trans fats on their food labels, so next time you’re grocery shopping, check the label before you buy.
Like olive oil, salmon is rich in unsaturated fats. There are two kinds of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil is a MUFA, and salmon is a polyunsaturated fat. More specifically, it’s rich in omega-3 fats, which are an important kind of polyunsaturated fat because the body can’t produce them on its own—all omega-3 fats must come from food.
Salmon and other omega-3-rich foods have been shown to help lower your risk of heart disease.
Oatmeal is healthy for your heart because it’s a fiber that helps reduce your bad cholesterol (and if you’re wondering whether or not there’s such a thing as “good cholesterol,” read this article). Basically, it acts like a sponge that soaks up your bad cholesterol as it moves through your digestive system, meaning that all of that bad cholesterol leaves your system instead of getting absorbed into your bloodstream. The only catch? Make sure you’re eating steel-cut or rolled oats instead of instant or flavored oatmeal—both of those are brimming with added sugar.
Avocados are one of the richest sources of MUFAs that we have. Like olive oil, avocados can reduce your bad cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease. They also have anti-inflammatory agents that can help ward off inflammation and other degenerative conditions (and while this helps your heart, it also helps other parts of your body, like your joints, brain, and skin).
For more information on how to keep your heart healthy, check out this article. If you have any questions about heart health, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Mai Sharaf, by calling 817-617-8650 or by scheduling online at continuumtx.com.