Abigail Joy Dougherty: Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Expert & Lover of Life
2015, Avocado Recipes, Healthy Eating, Heart Healthy Living, National Nutrition Month, Nutrition, Salmon, Superfoods

Heart-Healthy Foods

Guest Blog- By Kelly Puryear

Hello, fabulous readers! My name is Kelly Puryear and I have been given the honor of writing a few “guest blogs” for Abigail as her intern dietetic student. I am a registered dietitian-in-training and I am finishing up my last semester as a distance dietetic student at the University of Alabama (“Roll Tide”)! I moved to Tampa in 2009 to complete my masters program in Exercise Science and now I work at a private personal training studio in South Tampa (Vitality Fitness) as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). I have always been passionate about fitness and nutrition and I hope to spread some of this passion to you! I hope that you are able to learn some more about nutrition from me and that you enjoy reading my blogs!

Thank you for reading 🙂

The Top Ten Heart-Healthy Foods

As you may know, March is National Nutrition Month! And what better way to celebrate than to celebrate your health? Celebrations typically involve friends, family, FOOD and drinks…but the celebratory foods and drinks are not always the healthiest (think champagne, wine, birthday cakes, savory appetizers, and high-fat finger foods) and while you may have your heart full of happiness and love, you may be putting your heart at risk with the food choices you make on a daily basis. That does not have to be the case, however, and I am going to talk to you about the Top Ten Heart-Healthy foods and the health benefits of consuming these “superfoods”!

The fuel you put into your body, like that you put in your gas tank, will determine how well you run. The heart is critically essential to the body’s function as it controls the circulation of blood. When you clog its pathways with poor food choices you jeopardize the blood vessels and this can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease. According to Sonia Angel, a registered dietitian at Memorial Regional Hospital in Miami,

There is not one single food that will help you lower or raise your cholesterol. Variety is the key. The less processed the food, the better.”

Lucette Talamas, a registered dietitian with Baptist Health South Florida, agrees and explains that

Choosing foods in their most natural form is one way to avoid eating added sugars hidden in packaged foods and beverages,”

and together Angel and Tamalas put together a list of 10 heart healthy foods.

Here are their suggestions:

1. Salmon

Wild salmon, not farm raised, is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost the immune system. The good fats in salmon reduce inflammation, keep blood flowing, and lower triglycerides. Other heart healthy fish are sardines, barramundi and tuna. Two servings a week is a fabulous start.

Salmon and Cheese bites

Click here for this delicious Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Cucumber Bites

2. Ground flax seeds.

Rich in fiber and vegetarian Omega-3 that is easily added to a variety of foods like soups and salads. Helps reduce blood cholesterol. Enjoy flaxseeds in smoothies, sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt or plain oatmeal, and in baked goods (like oatmeal cookies and homemade energy bars).

3. Nuts.

Walnuts are loaded with vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids and are a delicious source for magnesium. Helps reduce blood cholesterol. Throw walnuts into trail mix, on top of breakfast cereal, oatmeal, Greek Yogurt or salads to give extra flavor, crunch and much needed Omegas!

Fruit and Nut mix

4. Beans and Legumes.

These include red kidney beans and black beans, edamame, chickpeas and lentils. All are rich in magnesium, vitamin B complex and are a good source of soluble fiber, which reduces cholesterol. You can achieve all of the health benefits of beans and legumes by making your own 3-bean salad, making vegetarian bean chili, or topping your salad with chilled chickpeas and edamame beans.


5. Berries

Any and all berries, especially blueberries (which are a good source of ellagic acid, an antioxidant that protects blood vessels) lower blood pressure and reduces LDL.

6. Red wine.

The antioxidants like catechins and resveratrol in red wine appear to increase HDL and reduce LDL. Limit to one four-ounce glass of wine a day.

red wine

7. Oatmeal.

Delicious oats have Omega-3 fatty acids and are also rich in soluble fiber, magnesium, potassium and niacin. Bonus: Oatmeal also helps to lower LDL. You can do so much with oats its amazing, make familiar oatmeal or grind it up and make oat flour, even add it to dishes like Meatloaf and smoothies to give extra fiber and nutrition.

8. Avocado.

These fabulous, nutrition packed fruits are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps lower LDL. They promote the absorption of carotenoids that improve heart health and they taste delicious.

Guiltless Guacamole

Click here for this delicious Guiltless Guacamole recipe, compliments of GoodHouseKeeping.com

9. Tea.

Including black or green are rich in flavonoids, which is an antioxidant that protects cells from damaging free radicals. Also found in coffee, just be sure to avoid super sugary and creamy additions to your teas or coffees which can lead to adverse affects.


10. Dark chocolate.

The high flavanol content has a blood thinning effect that the heart loves. Pick carefully, though, since the dark chocolate has to be 70 percent pure cocoa or higher to be beneficial. The recommended portion is two small pieces a day.


So what should you serve at your next party? How about an assortment of colorful heart-healthy appetizers (including mixed nuts and berries, guacamole and colorful veggies, edamame or a 3-bean salad, and smoked salmon and cheese bites) and dark chocolate covered strawberries and oatmeal cookies for dessert. Your guests can wash all this delicious food down with hot black or green tea, hot coffee, and red wine (in moderation)!

Above all, changes in diet must become a lifestyle modification with diet and exercise, not just a temporary fix! As Angel said,

We must consider changing our lifestyles for heart health,”

and I recommend that people incorporate variety and practice moderation in their diets and engage in daily physical activity to achieve optimal health and lifelong happiness!




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