Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Your heart is part of your body’s cardiovascular system, which also includes your veins, arteries, and capillaries.
It’s constantly working to provide your tissues and organs with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. In fact, the average adult heart beats 60 to 80 times a minute at rest, keeping every cell in your body constantly nourished.
Your heart keeps you alive and well, and protecting its health should be a top priority. Fortunately, following a diet high in heart-healthy nutrients can drastically reduce heart disease risk and promote optimal cardiovascular functioning.
Here are 18 heart-healthy snacks and drinks.
1. Matcha tea
Matcha is a type of green tea that contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a polyphenol compound in green tea that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming EGCG-rich matcha tea may help improve heart health. Studies show that EGCG helps prevent atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty substances on artery walls, and may help reduce inflammation and cellular damage. This is why green tea intake has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke in many studies
2. Sardines Packed In Olive Oil
Snacking on sardines packed in olive oil gives your heart a mega dose of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Sardines are small, fatty fish that happen to be one of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats you can eat. The heart health benefits of omega-3 fats are well documented, and studies show that omega-3-rich dietary patterns may reduce your risk of heart disease and its risk factors, such as high triglyceride levels.
Olive oil intake is also strongly linked to improved heart health. A study that included 7,216 adults at high risk of heart disease demonstrated that for every 10-gram increase of extra virgin olive oil per day, the risk of heart disease decreased by 10%. For reference, 1 tablespoon of olive oil equals 14 grams
3. Walnut and Tart Cherry Trail Mix
Nuts and seeds are known to be heart healthy. Walnuts in particular have been shown to improve blood vessel function and reduce heart disease risk factors like inflammation, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels. Tart cherries are packed with polyphenol antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation, prevent cellular damage, and protect your heart. Try mixing walnuts and tart cherries for a nutritious, portable snack.
4. Rainbow Chard Hummus Wraps
Swiss chard hummus wraps deliver important nutrients that your body needs to stay in top condition. Leafy green veggies like Swiss chard are packed with folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K, all of which are needed for healthy blood pressure and blood flow. Swiss chard is also high in dietary nitrates, which help decrease blood pressure and reduce the workload on your heart.
5. Coffee Smoothie
Coffee can not only give you a much-needed morning pick-me-up but also has been associated with some impressive heart health benefits. Numerous studies have associated regular coffee intake with a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. In fact, one large review of 218 studies found that people who drank 3 cups of coffee per day had a 19% reduced risk of death from heart disease, compared with non-drinkers. Instead of choosing a sugar-laden coffee beverage, elevate your morning coffee experience by creating a smoothie that combines coffee with other heart-healthy ingredients like banana, almond butter, and cacao powder.
6. Chocolate-Chia Peanut Butter Bites
These chewy, chocolatey, peanut butter bites are made with whole, nutrient-dense ingredients that can help protect your heart. Unlike sugary chocolate treats like candy or energy bars that may harm your heart health when consumed in excess, these bites are packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Plus, they’re naturally sweetened with dates. Oats, walnuts, and chia seeds are the stars of this recipe and have all been shown to lower heart disease risk factors like high LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
7. Papaya Boats
The vibrant orange flesh of papayas is packed with a compound called lycopene, a carotenoid plant pigment that has many beneficial qualities. Lycopene has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may help prevent atherosclerosis and improve blood flow, making it an important nutrient for heart health. Studies show that consuming a lycopene-rich diet may significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and protect against heart-disease-related death.
8. Cacao Hot Chocolate
Cacao is a pure form of cocoa that’s generally less processed and more nutrient-dense than most other cocoa products. Cacao is packed with minerals and antioxidants that can benefit the health of your heart. It’s particularly rich in flavonoid antioxidants, which are known for their cardiovascular benefits. According to scientific research, enjoying cacao products may help reduce blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and lower your risk of heart disease. To create a nutritious hot chocolate beverage without high amounts of added sugar, add 1 tablespoon of cacao powder to a mug of hot milk of your choice. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sweeten with a bit of honey or maple syrup.
9. Rosemary and Turmeric Spiced Nuts
Nuts provide your body with plant-based protein, healthy fats, fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Plus, they’re an excellent portable snack choice for boosting the health of your heart. What’s more, snacking on nuts has been shown to promote weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, which is essential for keeping your heart in top condition. Try coating nuts with olive oil along with anti-inflammatory spices and herbs like rosemary, turmeric, ginger, and cayenne pepper before roasting to perfection.
10. Beet, Chickpea and Avocado Salad
Combining beets with avocado and chickpeas makes for a colorful snack sure to satisfy your hunger. Beets are loaded with powerful antioxidants and nitrates, which may help improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Additionally, beets, chickpeas, and avocados are all excellent sources of fiber. A review of 31 studies found that people who consume the highest amounts of fiber may cut their risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by up to 24%.
11. Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad
Consuming cruciferous veggies like broccoli and whole grains like quinoa is important for heart health. Broccoli is an abundant source of heart-health-boosting vitamins and minerals, and it contains sulfur compounds that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Pairing crunchy, nutrient-dense broccoli with quinoa, a pseudograin rich in nutrients is needed for healthy blood vessel function like magnesium and potassium. Research shows that chowing down on cruciferous vegetables and fiber-rich grains may be a delicious way to lower your risk of heart disease
12. Kale and Sweet Potato egg Cups
Eggs provide a vital source of nutrients, including healthy fats, protein, and selenium, a mineral that’s essential for a healthy heart. Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body and protects against oxidative damage. Though more research is needed, low selenium levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and heart failure. Try combining eggs, kale, and sweet potato to make an irresistible snacking option that’s sure to keep you full between meals.
13. Hibiscus tea
Hibiscus tea is a tart drink made from the flowers of hibiscus plants, namely Hibiscus sabdariffa. Hibiscus flowers are a potent source of polyphenol antioxidants, and hibiscus extract has been shown to have blood-pressure- and cholesterol-lowering properties. A study in 25 men found that consuming about 8 ounces (250 mL) of a hibiscus extract drink per day significantly improved blood flow and reduced blood pressure and inflammation levels, compared with drinking plain water. Hibiscus tea can be purchased in bags or as a loose leaf tea and enjoyed hot or cold.
14. Salmon Salad
Salmon is a fatty fish that’s packed with omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium, potassium, and magnesium, all of which benefit heart health. A randomized study in 92 Chinese men with high blood lipids found that those who consumed 18 ounces (500 grams) of salmon per day for 8 weeks experienced significant reductions in triglyceride levels and markers of inflammation. They also saw significant increases in heart-protective HDL cholesterol, compared with men who consumed other animal proteins. Other studies have also linked regular consumption of oily fish like salmon to reduced heart disease risk factors like high triglyceride levels
15. Coconut and Pomegranate Chia Seed Pudding
If you’re craving a sweet snack that isn’t loaded with added sugar, coconut and pomegranate chia seed pudding is a perfect option. The recipe includes nutritious, fiber-rich ingredients like chia seeds, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, shredded coconut, and pomegranate seeds and doesn’t contain added sugar. Pomegranate adds a sweet, yet tart taste to recipes, and it’s packed with powerful antioxidants like tannins and anthocyanins, which fight atherosclerosis - the buildup of fat - and promote healthy blood vessel function,
16. Artichoke Dips and Red Pepper Sticks
While most artichoke dips rely on rich ingredients like mayonnaise and cheese to provide flavour, this artichoke dips is packed with fiber-rich veggies and much lower in calories than traditional dips, making it a heart-friendly snack alternative. Artichokes are particularly high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K —all of which are essential for heart health. Pairing a healthy artichoke with lycopene- and vitamin-C-rich red pepper sticks boosts your intake of heart-health-promoting nutrients even higher.
17. Tomato, Feta and White Bean Salad
Combining fresh tomatoes, salty feta cheese, fresh herbs, and creamy white beans makes the perfect savoury snack choice to fuel your body in a healthy way. Tomatoes are among the richest dietary sources of the heart-health-promoting pigment lycopene, and research shows that enjoying tomatoes and tomato products may help reduce your risk of heart disease. For example, a review of 28 studies found that high tomato intake and high blood levels of lycopene were associated with a 14% lower risk of heart disease, 26% lower risk of stroke, and 36% reduced risk of death.
18. Citrus Water
Adding a slice of fresh citrus fruit to your water may help promote the health of your heart. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are high in many beneficial nutrients and plant compounds, including essential oils and flavonoid antioxidants. Several studies have demonstrated that daily citrus juice intake helps lower blood pressure levels, which is an important risk factor for heart disease, Plus, adding a bit of citrus to your water can help you increase your fluid intake. Staying properly hydrated is essential for heart functioning, and dehydration may increase your risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke. Try adding slices of lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit to your water for a burst of flavour.
The Bottom Line
Your heart depends on proper nutrition for optimal functioning. Following a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is essential for keeping your cardiovascular system in top shape. Choosing snacks that contain healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are known to support the heart is an excellent way to care for your overall health. Try adding a few of the snacks listed above into your weekly menu for a delicious way to take care of your heart.
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