8 min read
Did you know that the top two killers worldwide are related to the heart?
Ischaemic heart disease and strokes are responsible for 27% of deaths worldwide annually. Despite having topped the list for many years now, they're still on the rise with not enough people taking proper care of their heart health.
You’re probably thinking this is where we’ll tell you stop eating everything you like. Nope! The key is to eat mindfully with a focus on heart health.
What is Mindful Eating?
Before getting into the snacks, let's quickly cover what is meant by mindful eating.
Mindful eating is becoming more aware of the food you put into your body and the purpose behind it. Some people also like to pay more attention to the experience of eating, and they find it useful for starting to focus on their diet. In this article, mindful eating will refer to purposefully picking snacks that are going to do your body and your heart good and take care of yourself.
How to Choose Heart-Healthy Snacks
When choosing what snacks to eat to prioritize your heart health you need to be conscious that you choose snacks that won’t spike your blood sugar or contribute to unhealthy blood pressure over time. It is best for your heart health to choose snacks that contain whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and heart-healthy dairy.
What to Avoid
When choosing which snacks are beneficial for your heart health there are some signs to avoid:
- High Sodium (A snack shouldn’t make up a large portion of your RDI of 2300mg)
- Added Sugars
- Saturated and Trans Fats
- Unrecognizable Ingredients (Ex: colors, preservatives, artificial flavors)
When it comes to healthy eating, where better to start than with fruit? Fruit makes a delicious snack that even those with super sweet teeth will be happy with! Let's dive into some of the best fruit snacks for a healthy heart.
1. Apples With Nut Butter
There are two great, heart-healthy things going on here; apples and nut butter! Nuts are full of good fats that can help support the heart when eaten in moderation, and nut butter is the perfect way to get more of them into your diet. Just make sure you pick a nut butter that doesn't have added salt, sugar, or chemicals - keep it simple and make your heart happy.
If you're not the biggest fan of nuts, you might be interested to learn that 25 studies have discovered that regular consumption of these tasty treats could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 30%! They're also packed with protein that will help you make the most out of your heart-healthy exercise routine.
Then there are the apples, which add a sweetness to the nut butter and an extra heart boost. Apples are very high in soluble fiber, which is great for lowering bad cholesterol. They do say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, after all!
2. Handful of Blueberries
Blueberries are a superfood that should become a part of every heart-healthy diet! These little berries have very high levels of anthocyanins, which is an antioxidant that dilates blood vessels, helping to decrease blood pressure and lower your risk of a heart attack. Eat them at least three times a week for a tasty treat that could help you live longer!
If you're not sure when you're going to eat so many blueberries, why not buy them frozen to add to smoothies and porridge?
3. Citrus Fruits
When it comes to mindful snacks, we don't always have the time to chop up vegetables or cook a dish. This is where citrus fruits come in. Super easy to eat and great for your heart, they're the perfect on-the-go snack when you've got a busy schedule!
Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other varieties of citrus fruits have all got something called flavonoids. Over the last 10 years, these have been discovered to help reduce the risk of strokes and keep your heart healthy. They also contain tons of vitamin C, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
If fruit isn't really your thing, why not try adding a couple of vegetables to your weekly mindful snacks for a great boost to the heart? Here are some of our favorites.
Legumes are things like kidney beans, lentils, and soybeans, and they're all super good for your heart! They're incredibly high in protein but low in unhealthy fat and also contain magnesium, antioxidants, and folate which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. The fiber in legumes can also help lower bad cholesterol and regulate your blood sugar levels; who would say no to that?
Add some legumes to a mini salad for a flavorful and refreshing snack.
5. Avocado on Whole Wheat
Avocado's get a bad rep for containing a lot of fat. While that's true, they actually contain good fat that your body - and heart - needs to stay healthy. These are called monounsaturated fats, and they lower the bad cholesterol in the body while increasing the good cholesterol!
For an extra fiber kick, spread your own wholewheat bread with a pinch of pepper.
6. Red Pepper and Hummus
Red bell peppers get their color from lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce your risk of heart disease. They're also packed full of vitamins A and C, which are other antioxidants. Eat red pepper as a snack, and your whole body gets an immunity boost!
Opt for hummus instead of ranch dressing to dip your red peppers. This tasty plant-based dip is packed with protein and good fats.
Sweet Heart-Healthy Snacks
If you love sweets and think it will be your downfall when eating a healthy diet, think again! Just because something is sweet doesn't mean it has to be unhealthy. Just take a look at some of these options!
7. Dark Chocolate
While not quite as sweet as milk chocolate, dark chocolate should still satisfy your craving without the negative health benefits. In fact, in moderation, dark chocolate is actually good for the heart! This is because it contains polyphenols which are a micronutrient that can regulate blood pressure, reduce clotting, and prevent inflammation, all of which are great for your heart!
Make sure to eat dark chocolate that has a cocoa percentage of at least 60%, but preferably 70% and higher. One or two squares a day is more than enough, too!
8. Homemade Energy Balls
Energy balls are super tasty sweet treats that are easy to eat on the go. You can find tons of recipes that are packed full of heart-healthy ingredients, too. Opt for energy balls that contain seeds, oats, and nuts (or nut butter) for a healthy dose of good fats and soluble fiber.
If you want to get extra healthy, why not add chia, hemp, or flax seeds as well? These are full of omega3 fatty acids, which are essential for reducing inflammation and preventing heart disease.
Savory Heart-Healthy Snacks
Not everyone loves to munch on sweet food all day, so why not take a peek at these heart-friendly savory snacks? They're perfect if you prefer a little less sugar and a little more umami in your life!
9. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas come under the legumes category we talked about earlier. They're full of fiber and sterols, both of which can help lower your bad cholesterol and will contribute to a healthier heart! But, chickpeas on their own don't make the most delicious of snacks.
So, try roasting yours for a flavourful, crunchy treat when you're feeling hungry. Toss your chickpeas with a little olive oil, some garlic (another great superfood!) and some smoked paprika for a smoky, savoury snack. They're incredibly quick to make and will last a while, so you can munch on them all week for a boost to your heart.
Edamame isn’t just fun to eat (is that just us?), but it’s also a great food if you're looking for something heart-healthy. Edamame has a specific type of soy protein which has been shown to lower cholesterol. It also has heaps of fiber, phytonutrients, and polyunsaturated fat, three things that are essential for keeping heart disease and strokes at bay!
But, a lot of edamame is served with salt, which isn't so good for your heart. Instead, switch the salt for a squeeze of lemon (or lime if you prefer) and cayenne pepper for a tangy, spicy snack that you can feel good about eating.
Do More to Protect Your Heart
These heart-healthy snacks are super delicious and much better for you than chips, chocolate, and cakes! Once you give them a try, we doubt you'll be looking back. But, these are just the start of your heart-health journey.
Maintaining a strong heart and steering clear of nasty diseases is all about your lifestyle as a whole. You need to exercise often, eat well all the time, and avoid unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking alcohol too often. If you want to quickly boost your heart health, take a look at our natural supplements to support blood circulation and keep your ticker working as it should.
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