Foods to eat to keep your healthy heart pumping

The Monterey County HeraldJuly 27, 2013 

Here are 10 best bets for heart health to work into your diet from "The Vegan Cook's Bible," by Pat Crocker, a culinary herbalist.

BROILED OR BAKED FISH: Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and stroke.

GARLIC: Allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic smell, helps lower blood pressure and reduces blood clotting.

SOY FOODS: Isoflavones in soy foods help protect the cardiovascular system. Soy foods can also significantly lower LDS (bad) cholesterol levels.

POMEGRANATES: Pomegranate juice has been shown to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, protect the arteries from becoming thicker and reduce the development of atherosclerosis.

EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Olive oil is a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenols and is high in monounsaturated fats. An essential part of the Mediterranean diet, it has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

WHOLE OATS AND OAT BRAN: Oats contain a soluble fiber that binds cholesterol in the bowels and prevents it from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

CELERY: Four ribs per day can help reduce blood pressure. Celery also contains a compound that benefits the cardiovascular system.

APPLES: They're rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that is effective in lowering cholesterol levels.

ASPARAGUS AND LEAFY GREENS: Asparagus and leafy green vegetables are high in folate, essential for lowering a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

TEA AND COCOA: Tea and cocoa are good providers of bioflavonoids. Studies show that drinking three cups of brewed black tea a day can have a long-term positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Consumed in moderation, cocoa can be a component of a heart-healthy diet.

Calcium Q&A

Q: Is calcium in cheese better absorbed than calcium in milk?A: One study on rats found calcium in cheese was better absorbed in young rats but not in adult rats. Humans are different, however.

Studies show that we absorb the calcium in cheese and milk pretty much the same. We glean about the same amount of calcium from one cup of milk or 1.5 ounces of cheese. (Each provides about 300 milligrams of calcium.)

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