Foods that are deemed “good for your heart” will be making a more frequent appearance on my grocery list this year.  At 46, I like to think that I’m in fairly good shape.  I try to watch what I eat and am reasonably active.  Unfortunately, over 50 million people in the U.S. have high blood pressure, making it the most common heart disease risk factor.  Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country.   These figures are enough to make me sit up and take notice.  As I get older, I find myself spending more and more time in front of my computer and less and less time exercising, gardening, and taking walks around the neighborhood.

I know that being active is one thing I can do to help reduce my risk of heart disease – but there are also heart-healthy foods I can add to my grocery list as well. Overall, your diet should contain foods that are low in fat and cholesterol. The food you choose should be high in vitamins and antioxidants as well. Here are a few good foods for your heart that should make a more frequent appearance on your dinner table this year.

Good Foods For Your Heart

  • Fish – Fish is not only a good source of protein, it’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may play a part in lowering blood pressure.
  • Sweet potatoes and whole grains – Studies have shown that foods that are high in fiber may help combat diabetes and heart disease.
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables – The more color a fruit or vegetable has, the more vitamins it contains. Great choices are spinach and other leafy green vegetables.
  • Fresh berries – Fresh berries like blackberries and raspberries can help lower the buildup of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which contributes to heart disease.
  • Tomatoes – Tomatoes not only contain  lycopene which has cancer preventing property,  but they also have beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Of course, as you’re adding the good foods for your heart, don’t forget that you should also try to limit foods that are not good for your heart like:

  • Sugars – Sugars and other simple carbohydrates are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Salt – Too much salt will raise your blood pressure.
  • Processed meats – Meats like sausage and bacon contain sodium and nitrites which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Trans fats – Avoid the fats found in fried foods, snack foods, and packaged sweets.

When you’re loading up your grocery cart at the store next time, try adding a few more of the good foods for your heart and leave a few more of the bad foods on the shelf.  Let’s start 2013 with a heart-healthy plan.