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February 15, 2013

The 5 Best Foods For A Man’s Heart

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Men and women are different when it comes to matters of the heart. Men develop the conditions leading to heart disease, including blocked blood vessels and high blood pressure, about seven to 10 years earlier than women. That's why men should take steps as soon as possible to prevent problems later on.

A healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet, not smoking, and regular physical activity, is important for a man's ticker. Certain foods are particularly good for supporting heart health. Here are some examples of what should be on the menu, particularly if you're a man.

Salmon : The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat fish at least twice a week. With its heart-healthy omega-3 fats, salmon is particularly helpful for countering heart disease. Omega-3s help lower blood triglycerides (fat), reducing the chance of clogging in your arteries. Omega-3 fats also boost the immune system and sooth inflamed joints and muscles. As an added bonus, salmon supplies vitamin D, which is good for a man's bones.

Whole Grains : Guys, do you get enough grains? Most likely you do, but they're probably the wrong kind - white and highly processed. Include a minimum of three servings of whole grains, such as cereal, bread, and pasta, daily for heart health. Whole grains are rich in soluble fiber, the type also found in apples, beans, and berries. Soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol levels, and keeps arteries clear by limiting the build up of plaque. Plaque narrows arteries, restricting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. 

Milk : Move over bananas; potassium is found in hundreds of other fresh and lightly processed foods, too. For example, eight ounces of Hood Milk has more potassium than a small banana! Most adults lack adequate potassium, which you need to control blood pressure and promote fluid balance in the body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Diets rich in potassium and magnesium, found together in foods such as Greek yogurt, can reduce the risk of stroke. A stroke is a sudden reduction of blood flow to the brain that can cause permanent damage. 

Legumes : Garbanzos, lentils, black beans, and other legumes supply soluble fiber and protein, among many other nutrients, such as zinc, iron, and folate. Legumes are unique in that they qualify as a protein food and vegetable source. In fact, they are the vegetable with the most protein.  Legumes are rich in soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol in the blood stream.

Berries : Berries boast anthocyanins, compounds that provide blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries with their deep hue, while benefitting the heart by improving blood flow and countering plaque build-up. Animal studies suggest eating berries on a regular basis may even help slow the decline in brain function that can occur with aging. Eat berries raw, as anthocyanins break down with heat.

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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