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5 food groups that can promote heart health

If you're looking for heart healthy diet inspiration, start here. What we eat matters – and incorporating even just a few beneficial foods into our diets on a regular basis can set us up for better health in the long run.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for people in the United States, with one person passing away every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that Veterans are at an even higher risk for developing these conditions, when compared to non-Veterans.

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Add some of these 5 heart-healthy foods to your next grocery shopping list:

Leafy greens

Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are a powerhouse trio found within many leafy greens – which have been shown to aid in cardiovascular health, according to the American Heart Association. Try incorporating some of these greens into a salad, smoothie, or soup:

  • Spinach

  • Kale

  • Swiss chard

  • Bok choy

Fish with omega-3 fatty acids

Fatty fish has a vital nutrient for heart health: omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, making them a fabulous addition to any heart healthy diet. Add these fish into your regular diet:

  • Salmon

  • Mackerel

  • Tuna

  • Or take fish oil supplements

Seeds with omega-3 fatty acids

Similarly to the seafood we just mentioned, you can also find omega-3 fatty acids in a variety of different seeds. Snack on them plain; add them to your granola; these seeds are easy to incorporate as a topping or quite bite in between meals:

  • Chia seeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Flax seeds

Whole grains

Refined grains (white bread) increase the risk of coronary heart disease, whereas whole grains actively work against it. When the germ, endosperm, and bran (the parts of grain that contain nutrients) remain intact, you're getting heart healthy benefits. Whole grains include the following:

  • Quinoa

  • Buckwheat

  • Whole wheat

  • Barley

  • Rye

Mixed berries

Rich in antioxidants, berries are not only delicious – but also good for you. They prevent inflammation and oxidative stress, two key factors that contribute to heart disease's development. Whether you eat them on their own, in a smoothie, or sprinkled on some pancakes, any of these will provide benefit:

  • Blueberries

  • Raspberries

  • Blackberries

  • Strawberries

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