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25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods

These 25 foods are loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system.
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25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods continued...

Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

Rub with olive oil, and grill or oven-roast until tender. Delicious in wraps, salads, sandwiches.

  1. Asparagus

Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber.

Grill or steam slightly, then dress with olive oil and lemon. It's a pretty side dish.

  1. Oranges

Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

Got orange juice? Check out the new nutrient-packed blends.

  1. Tomatoes

Beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

For a flavor twist, try oil-packed tomatoes in sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas.

  1. Acorn squash

Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium; fiber.

Baked squash is comfort food on a chilly day. Serve with sautéed spinach, pine nuts, raisins.

  1. Cantaloupe

Alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

A fragrant ripe cantaloupe is perfect for breakfast, lunch, potluck dinners. Simply cut and enjoy!

  1. Papaya

Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein (carotenoids); Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

Serve papaya salsa with salmon: Mix papaya, pineapple, scallions, garlic, fresh lime juice, salt and black pepper.

  1. Dark chocolate

Reservatrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids).

A truffle a day lowers blood pressure, but choose 70% or higher cocoa content.

  1. Tea

Catechins and flavonols (flavonoids).

Make sun tea: Combine a clear glass jar, several tea bags, and hours of sunshine.

Your Guide to Nutrients in Heart-Healthy Foods

Phytoestrogensare substances in plants (like flaxseed) that have a weak estrogen-like action in the body. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help lower total and LDL "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure.

Phytosterols are plant sterols that chemically resemble cholesterol -- and seem to reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts and seeds, including wheat germ, have phytosterols.

Carotenoids are heart-protective antioxidants in many colorful fruits and veggies. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene are carotenoids.

Polyphenols are another set of antioxidants that protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol. Flavonoid polyphenols include catechins, flavonones, flavonols, isoflavones, reservatrol, and anthocyanins. Non-flavonoid polyphenols include ellagic acid (found in all types of berries).

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