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February Month of Heart: Tomatoes to Nuts, Six Top Heart-Friendly Foods You Must Have

Vendors with wild cucumbers to sell (IANS)

Vendors with wild cucumbers to sell (IANS)

American Heart Month is being observed in the moth of February to highlight heartcare, which is primary concern for millions of Americans and people all over the world.

At least one in four deaths are caused by heart disease but changing the life style is main mantra to prevent heart diseases, making awareness among people the most effective measure to prevent the impact of the strokes and heart attacks.

Besides exercise for 20 minutes daily and taking vegetables and fruits in abundance helps the lifestyle-prone cardiovascular diseases at bay for the youth whose lifestyle is more sedentary due to the onset of computer or TV-glued life.

Here are six heart-friednly foods in diet that can help keep body health in top shape:


Tomatoes, which are excellent source of vitamin C, along with potassium, fiber, and vitamin A also contain the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid that lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), keeps arteries open, and reduces heart diseases. Lycopene is highest in cooked tomatoes, so better to opt for tomato stews, soups, and sauces in your daily diet. Next to tomatoes, beans provide an excellent plant-based protein, soluble fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Just a ½ cup of beans daily might lower cholesterol. Its soluble fiber binds cholesterol and stops it from getting absorbed in the gut. Several types of beans — garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and navy beans — give enough choice and variety to choose from and all of them are beneficial to heart.


Blueberries have anthocyanins or antioxidants, which may dilute blood vessels and decrease blood pressure. Research shows that just one cup of blueberries daily helps reduce blood pressure and widens arteries, especially in post-menopausal women. These berries should be added on as a snack, topping, or food ingredient and they are available throughout the year. They are potential source of vitamin C and fiber and measure only 80 calories per cup.


Fish is the next rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking fish twice in a week will reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 30 percent. The fish, rich in variety but salmon, tuna, and trout are on top with omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines, being small in nature are possess extremely low mercury that is harmful comopnent found in fish. Otherwise, just a ¼ cup of BELA sardines in olive oil contains 120 calories, 13 grams of protein, besides being rich in calcium and vitamin D.


Whole grains are known for reducing risk of heart disease and oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta and bread are some of those suggested by dieticians to be rich in fiber besides being rich in antioxidants and phytosterols that protect heart. Research shows that both the insoluble fiber (found in wheat and rye) and soluble fiber (found in oats) in whole grains are recommendable for a healthy heart.

Healthy Oils:

While oil is a major component of food, it is also a major source of compressing arteries. Hence, researchers suggest healthy oils like canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil and vegetable oil, which are rich in unsaturated fats, improve blood cholesterol levels. Since baked food is the main ingredient in daily food, canola oil is highly recommended as it has a neutral flavor and gives the perfect texture to baked food.


Nuts are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and heart-friendly fats. Numeroud research findings have zeroed in on benefits of nuts, especially walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews. Handful of nuts twice a week is shown to have lowered bad cholesterol (LDL) compared to those who rarely take nuts. Since nuts can be stored, they act as healthy nutrients to supplement food while on the go for modern youth, who rarely get time to sit and eat. However, over-consumption of nuts is not advised as they are high in calories.

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