ANNAPOLIS — When it comes to your heart, what you eat makes the world of a difference. One million Americans die of heart disease every year in the United States— that means two out of every five deaths, or one life every 33 seconds. Renowned cardiologist and founder of the Heart Health Foundation, Dr. John Martin, offers his top five heart healthy foods to make sure you don’t become another number.
- Fish— Dr. Martin says salmon is the most heart healthy food. People who eat five or more servings of fish per week had a 30 percent lower risk of heart failure. Fish is a good source of protein & omega-3 fatty acids. Dark oily fish are the best, including mackerel or bluefish. But if you don’t eat fish at all, any fish is better than no fish. Just don’t fry it or add heavy cream.
- Lean Meats— Protein is an essential building block for all skeletal tissues. It’s important to consume three servings per day from various sources, however, know and limit your fats (saturated and trans fats). Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than six ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood a day. The leanest beef cuts usually include sirloin, chuck, loin and round. Choose “choice” or “select” grades rather than “prime.” Select lean or extra lean ground meats.
- Whole Grains— Cholesterol, fiber and oat bran Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble. When regularly eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and may also help reduce the risk of diabetes and colon and rectal cancer. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least 25–30 grams of dietary fiber— in both soluble and insoluble forms— every day. The more calories you require to meet your daily needs, the more dietary fiber you need. Try to eat at least 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories you consume.
- Leafy Greens— These include spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli just to name a few. Dr. Martin says you cannot get enough of these valuable veggies. Leafy greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber, an important nutrient that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. As a general rule, you should aim to eat at least five servings of daily (roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooked greens).
- Blueberries— Blueberries are one
of the most powerful disease-fighting foods. They have an abundance of plant chemicals called anthocyanin’s that can help maintain a healthy heart. Blueberries are a good source of fiber, are packed with vitamin C, and rank as one of the best sources of antioxidants. Dr. Martin suggests you eat a ½ cup of blueberries, three times a week. The best part is they can be found in most produce sections year around.
Dr. John D. Martin is the medical director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the center has become a nationally recognized facility for the treatment of vascular disease. In 2000, Dr. Martin along with Louise Hanson, CRNP, founded the Heart Health Foundation (www.hearthealthfoundation.org) and its Dare to CARE (http://www.daretocare.us/) program.