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Uncommon Heart Healthy Foods

Posted on 02/18/2014

It’s still Heart Health Month and I want to highlight Rene's (our registered dietitian’s) list of “uncommon heart healthy foods” that you may not think of as heart-wise when trying to eat a heart healthy diet. If you don’t currently consume these foods, you may want to give them a try. Your heart will thank you!  

Eggs --  Eggs are a heart healthy food. In the early 90’s, health experts believed that dietary cholesterol directly affected blood cholesterol levels and they warned the public to cut down on the amount of eggs they eat. Now, research from the American Heart Association and many other health organizations have since disproved this outdated recommendation. Eggs can be an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. Whole eggs provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, and when eaten in conjunction with a hearty healthy diet, like the one we serve at SSHE, whole eggs fit within heart-healthy guidelines.  

Greenwheat Freekeh --  Greenwheat freekeh is a super whole grain that has been enjoyed for centuries around the world and can be eaten in a variety of ways. The benefits of eating whole grains extend far beyond their high fiber content. Whole grain consumption is inversely related to hypertension, diabetes and obesity when compared to refined grains, all of which are negative indicators in total cardiovascular health. Whole grains are rich in many components, including dietary fiber, starch, fat, antioxidant nutrients, minerals, vitamin, lignans and phenolic compounds that have been linked to the reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases. Whole grains also contribute to body weight management and gastrointestinal health. 

Barley --  Barley is a whole grain everyone should get to know better. It is full of vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber and can reduce your cholesterol by about 10 percent. The soluble fiber in barley helps prevent the cholesterol in the foods you eat from being absorbed into your bloodstream. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, those who added 1-1/2 to 3 cups of cooked barley each day to a heart healthy diet reduced their total cholesterol by 9 percent and their bad cholesterol (LDL) by 11 percent. Barley’s delicious nutty flavor and wonderful chewy texture make it easy to include in your food choices, including but not limited to side dishes, soups and eaten as cereal.  

Mango  --  Mangos are the most consumed fruit in the world, however in America they are not as popular as elsewhere around the globe…but they should be! Mangos are high in potassium, which protects you from stroke, high blood pressure and heart-rhythm problems. Additionally, “a mango a day” can keep your digestive system running smoothly because of the fruit’s high fiber content and an enzyme that aids in digestion and motility. Mangos are refreshing and delicious and can be added to a wide variety of meals, in smoothies or eaten by themselves as a snack.

Chickpeas  --  Chickpeas are very good for the heart, and it’s all because of fiber and folate. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, high-fiber foods -like chickpeas- help prevent heart disease. Chickpeas contain a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber and since soluble fiber has been shown to act as a “sponge” to help clean up bile, it can also reduce levels of bad cholesterol. Folate has been identified as having a direct impact on reducing the risk of heart disease, and a serving of chickpeas contain 70 percent of the required daily serving of folate. They are also very versatile -- you can use them to make hummus, throw a handful into a salad, add a cup or two into your favorite vegetable soup recipe or add a few into a delicious pita sandwich chocked full of fresh vegetables!

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I also want to update you on our Seattle Sutton’s 2014 Slim Down Contest…in 5 weeks our contestants have lost a total of 232.1 pounds! Way to go, only 10 more weeks to go. Check back here to see how they are doing, or visit us on Facebook for the latest contest coverage. 



Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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