Top 8 Red Heart Healthy Foods
What do strawberries, apples, pomegranates, watermelon and kidney beans have in common? They are all heart healthy red foods. Today is Fitlosophy’s 3rd annual BLOG YOUR HEART OUT DAY! Heart disease is the #1 killer of women. The good news is that you can change this by making positive changes in your diet and lifestyle. I spoke at a Go Red campaign for the American Heart Association earlier this month. Today I want to help spread awareness by blogging on heart healthy RED foods.
Heart health foods are low in saturated fat, sodium, added sugar and high in fiber, especially soluble fiber and rich in vitamins/minerals. They also contain phytonutrients (compounds found in plants) that can help keep us healthy in numerous ways. Some of the better-known phytochemicals include beta carotene and other carotenoids, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid, and vitamin E. Other names for phytochemicals include: antioxidants, flavonoids, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanins, carotenoids, polyphenols, phenolic acids, and many other names.
All colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, yellow, orange, and red hues are nutrient-rich. Here are my top 9 Heart Healthy Red foods.
Top 8 “Go Red” foods
1. Red grapes. Red grapes are probably the most well known heart healthy food due to their resveratrol content. This is a polyphenol contained in the skin of red grapes that may help lower blood cholesterol levels and to impede blood clots and thus helps to lower your risk of a stroke. The skins of red grapes contain polyphenols and anthocyanins (antioxidants) which may help prevent damage to your body from free radicals.
Nutritional content: 1 cup – 104 calories, 0 gm fat, 3 mg sodium, 1.5 gm fiber
Eating tips: Wash grapes and keep in the refrigerator for a healthy snack. I love freezing grapes – a refreshing snack for summer. You can also incorporate grapes into salads or protein or grain dishes.
2. Strawberries are the second most popular fruit (after apples!). They are one of my favorite fruits – nothing beats a sweet ripe strawberry!
Nutritional content: 1 cup or 8 medium berries – 150% Daily Value for vitamin C, 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. They are excellent sources of antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
Eating tips: Add as a topping for hot or cold cereal or yogurt. Add to smoothies. Great snack or healthy dessert. Sounds strange, but they are delicious with balamsic vinegar. For a treat – try a chocolate dipped strawberry or strawberries in champagne!
3. Raspberries These are one of my favorite fruits when they are in season. Research suggests that eating a moderate amount of berries may increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce blood pressure
Nutritional content: 1 cup – 50 calories, 8 gm fiber, 0 grams of fat and sodium. High in dietary fiber; high in vitamin C.
4. Watermelon. No longer just a sweet picnic treat, watermelon is now known for its nutritional value. Watermelon, in particular, is an excellent source of lycopene, a red pigment. Watermelon consumption (six cups) increases free arginine which maintains cardiovascular function.
Nutritional content: 2 cups – 80 cal, 1 gm fiber. 0 grams of fat and sodium. Excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of vitamin B6, potassium.
Eating tips: Cube it and have it ready to grab for a snack. A great post-workout food to replete fluid and carbs. Ever try a grilled watermelon salad? Delicious!
5. Pomegranates seeds are low in calories, high in fiber and packed with antioxidants.
Nutritional content: 1/2 cup seeds – 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber, 0 grams of fat and sodium
Eating tips: Add them to Greek yogurt, salads and grain dishes. See my previous post on Pomegranates - it includes recipes!
6. Red apples. An apple a day may really keep the doctor away! Studies have shown that the nutrients in apples may play a role in decreasing heart disease and cancer. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls Apples are also full of a fibre called pectin, a soluble fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.
Nutritional content: medium apple - 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber, 0 grams of fat and sodium. Apples are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and disease fighting phytochemicals.
Eating tips: Great snack on the run, Adding a little protein such as peanut butter (2 tsp = 90 calories) or cheese (1 oz = 100 calories) can hold off hunger for hours. Adding chopped apples to your salad will add taste, crunch and fiber. Craving something sweet? Try a baked apple for a dessert. Add a little brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. For more info about apples, see my previous post.
7. Red beans. Beans, beans the magical fruit … yup! They are magical because they’re loaded with phytochemicals and fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol.
Nutritional content: 1/2 cup – 110 calories, 6 gm fiber, 0 grams fat. Canned beans hav 320 mg sodium whereas fresh have only 10 mg. Other nutrients include: B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.
Eating tips: Make bean soups or chili with lean ground beef/turkey, add beans to salads or grain dishes. Soak and cook your own beans to avoid sodium, preservatives … and save money! They only contain about 15 mg of sodium per ½ cup serving. No time to soak your own beans? Then use canned – just buy
low sodium or drain off the liquid.
8. Tomatoes: I add tomatoes to many of the dishes I cook – they add so much flavor! Tomatoes contain lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives them their red coloring. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to heart health.
Nutritional content: 1 medium – 33 calories, 2.2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of fiber and sodium. In addition to lycopene, they contain vitamin C and potassium.
Tips to eat: Add to salads, grain or main course dishes. Great for a healthy snack. Research has shown that cooking tomatoes boosts their heart-healthy qualities by increasing lycopene content. Have them in spaghetti sauce, chili, or soups.
How many of these foods do you eat a day? A week? Your goal would be at least one day!
** Want to win a very cool lil’ red food scale to measure all your heart healthy food? Head on over to the fitbook by fitlosophy facebook page and enter.
** You can find a lot more Heart Healthy nutrition tips and recipes at GoRedForWomen.com
** To join the Blog Your Heart Out campaign and info on our tweet chat on February 22, click here