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Snacking Your Way to a Healthy Heart

When you think about snacking, you probably start thinking about “junk food.” While chips and candy are certainly delicious, they have high caloric contents and are filled with loads of sugar and salt.

Fortunately snacking doesn’t have to be this way. Eating the right foods in between meals can help reduce hunger cravings, lower cholesterol, increase metabolism, and improve weight loss, leading to better heart health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Here’s a list of some great heart healthy snacks to get you started!

  1. Raisins are tasty and easy to eat on the go. They’re also great because they can help regulate blood pressure, therefore reducing risk of hypertension, a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke.
  2. There may be some truth to the age old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples contain antioxidant flavonoid compounds that keep the bad cholesterol, LDL, from causing plaque build up in the arteries, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack. The fiber within apples also helps to lower cholesterol.
  3. Popcorn (the kind that isn’t heavily buttered and salted) can actually benefit heart health through polyphenols. Polyphenols are a form of antioxidants that inhibit bad cholesterol from clogging arteries, thereby reducing risk for heart disease.
  4. Avocados are low in saturated fat, and free of trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Because of this they fit the American Heart Association’s list of diet and lifestyle recommendations. These fruits are also rich in monounsaturated fat, which helps reduce bad LDL cholesterol and increase the amount of the good HDL cholesterol, which effectively reduces the chance of heart disease.
  5. Nuts are packed full of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which reduce the amounts of bad cholesterol in our blood. Certain nuts, like walnuts for example, contain alpha-linoleic acid that the body converts into an omega-3 fatty acid, a substance known to prevent coronary heart disease.
  6. In a previous blog, we discussed how dark chocolate helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. When eaten, this popular confectionary treat makes certain bacteria in the stomach release anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart.

Just like with any other food, these snacks are healthy in moderation. Too much of one food and not enough of another makes for an unhealthy and unbalanced diet, causing health complications other than cardiovascular disease. If you’re concerned that your current diet may have affected your heart’s health, contact Virtual Imaging at 770-730-0119 to schedule an appointment.