Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Liz Applegate, Ph.D
Even among runners, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both women and men. Unfortunately, children as young as 7 are showing signs of early heart disease risk, making it clear that keeping the disease at bay requires a life-long approach. Getting enough physical activity is key to reducing your risk—and runners have that part down. But you also need to eat a diet that focuses on heart-healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In honor of February being American Heart Month, here’s a rundown on some of the best heart-healthy superfoods you should include in your diet.
SPRING SALAD MIX
These delicate salad greens are rich in phytonutrients and the B vitamins folate and B6. Together, these nutrients help protect blood vessels from damage that leads to clogged arteries.
Eat it Stuff greens into sandwiches and wraps or stir a handful into soup and allow them to wilt.
Soy contains compounds called isoflavones that studies show help lower blood cholesterol. Additionally, people who regularly eat soy have a lower risk for heart disease.
Drink it Use soy milk in your morning cereal, blend into fruit smoothies, and substitute it in recipes calling for regular milk.
Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and the like contain heart-healthy fats that won’t elevate circulating cholesterol levels. Nuts are also rich in an array of phytonutrients that help lessen the inflammatory response in arteries that may lead to the progression of heart disease.
Eat it Aside from eating nuts as a snack, they add delicious crunch to salads and yogurt (including frozen yogurt!).
From canned tuna to fresh salmon, seafood contains essential omega-3 fats. These fats help moderate the inflammatory response that occurs inside arteries, which is one of the reasons why eating fish twice a week has been shown to lower heart disease risk.
Eat it Canned salmon is an easy way to boost the protein and healthy fats in any meal. Add it on top of a salad or stir it into a soup for a quick “chowder.”
The rich red color of this fruit (and juice) provides protection to your heart by lowering the likelihood that circulating cholesterol will clog arteries. One study showed that drinking pomegranate juice daily improved blood flow in heart disease patients.
Drink it Mix with sparkling water as a refreshing, re-hydrating drink after a run.
This super cereal is rich in soluble fiber that helps block cholesterol absorption. Studies show that simply eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can significantly bring down cholesterol levels.
Eat it Oatmeal makes a great recovery meal any time of day—add savory flavors, like herbs, vegetable broth, and a sprinkle of nuts or Parmesan to tailor it for lunch or even a quick dinner. Or try adding a scoop of protein powder and Greek yogurt, along with a piece of fruit to round it out.