7 Heart-Healthy Red Foods

Red is the colour most associated with love, passion, intensity and…heart health? There are many red-coloured foods that are good for the body’s most important muscle. Here’s a list of popular red foods to add to your regular diet that will keep your heart healthy and beating strong.

7 Heart-Healthy Red FoodsPhoto: ShutterStock

Cherries

The tart versions of cherries (Early Richmond, Montmorency and Morello, for example) have been touted by scientists as powerful disease-fighting antioxidants that may help reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve a person’s natural sleep patterns. Besides eating them on their own, also try adding cherries to a fruit salad or poach them and use as a topping on a low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Dark Red Kidney Beans

Kidney beans have hugely beneficial cardiovascular effects. They are an exceptional source of cholesterol-lowering fibre and also contain large amounts of magnesium and folate, all of which contribute to heart health by reducing the chances of heart disease and heart attacks. Use kidney beans in stews, chilis or minestrone soup

Pomegranate

Pomegranate has a large number of beneficial antioxidants including polyphenols, anthocyanins and tannins. This “seedy apple” is also wonderfully rich in fibre and a great source of vitamins C and E. Pomegranate juice contains the highest level of antioxidants among most other fruit juices, red wine and tea. Studies have shown that drinking a daily glass of pomegranate juice fights off the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and related diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

Red Delicious Apples

The Red Delicious apple with its crisp, yellow flesh is a natural energy booster that contains vitamin C as well as potassium, a mineral which helps control blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. The apple is also a high source of pectin, which prevents cholesterol build-up and thus reduces the risk of heart disease. This apple variety is available year round, making it the perfect everyday snack food. 

Red Bell Peppers

This sweet-tasting bell pepper contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, both of which are important vitamins in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and diabetic heart disease. The red bell pepper is also an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that may be effective in preventing certain cancers. Because it is in good supply all year round, it won’t be hard to add this healthy red vegetable to your daily diet. Chop up red bell peppers and add them to salads, pasta dishes or stir fries. Carve them out and stuff them with rice or just slice them up and eat them raw!

Red snapper

Like most fish, the red snapper is high in protein, low in saturated fat and a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Consuming fish rich in Omega-3 fats increases heart rate variability (HRV), a measure of cardiac function. Studies have shown that with greater variability between beats, the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) or sudden death is significantly reduced. Omega-3s also make blood less likely to clot inside arteries (clogged arteries are the ultimate cause of most heart attacks and strokes). The moist flesh of the red snapper has a delicate sweet flavour. Serve it broiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled or any other way you like.

Strawberries

The strawberry contains more vitamin C than any other berry. In addition to containing potassium, folic acid, iron and fibre, strawberries are also rich in a phytonutrient called phenols. The presence of phenols is what gives this red-coloured berry the reputation of being an anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and heart-protective fruit all rolled into one. Strawberries are great for eating on their own or used in salads, cereals and as a dessert topping.

From cherry to grape, plum to vine, hot house to sundried, there are virtually thousands of varieties of the tomato. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and beta carotene as well as lycopene, a carotenoid that has been found to protect against a growing list of cancers and also prevent heart disease. Tomatoes can easily be incorporated into your daily diet and into just about any meal. Use them in omelettes, sandwiches, salads, pastas and more. Fresh tomatoes are also excellent for making an authentic, homemade Mexican salsa.

Martha Li for divine.ca
For more nutrition articles and healthy eating tips, visit divine.ca – Canada’s Online Women’s Magazine

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