Whether you choose pinto, kidney, or black varieties, beans are one of the best sources of fiber. For a one-two boost to heart health, replace meat in your diet with beans. “You’ll add a tremendous amount of fiber, and lower your intake of cholesterol and saturated fat,” says Joan Salge Blake, clinical associate professor at Boston University's Sargent College of Health. Try them in place of ground beef in chili, or swap out your usual hamburger for a black bean patty.
Once dismissed for their high fat content, nuts are now hailed for their powerhouse nutritional benefits, including lots of protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats. Try snacking on a handful of walnuts, almonds, or cashews, or sprinkling them over yogurt, cereal, and salads.
It’s true, even dessert can be heart-healthy. The cocoa bean contains antioxidants called flavonoids that fight cholesterol. Generally, the higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants you’re getting, so reach for dark over milk chocolate, and don’t eat too much.
All vegetables contain cholesterol-lowering fiber, but spinach is a particularly great source, with 6 grams per cup. If your greens tend to wilt in the fridge before you can finish them, remember: The frozen variety has just as much fiber and nutrients as fresh.