Cardiovascular health should be at the top of American health priorities, it would seem, based on the high rate of heart disease and disorders that people experience. Still, the advice coming from the government in the form of the US Dietary Guidelines and various other health sources seems conflicting, and people are left confused as to what helps and what hurts their cardiovascular health. Well, look no further, because we have the 4 best Paleo foods to support a healthy heart right here, with easy recipes to integrate them effortlessly into your weekly diet.
What should you eat so that your heart stays healthy?
The problem with this question is that there isn’t a single answer. We are all genetically individual and unique, and we all come with our own set of genetic risks. Some people may be more prone to heart disease than others due to family history, lifestyle, and other variables. Other people will have lower risk of cardiovascular events, but may still be concerned about eating for cardiovascular health and longevity.
The Paleo diet is a heart-healthy food plan in most cases, especially when it is rich in vegetables and protective fats, like salmon and sardines. Recent research has indicated that saturated fat isn’t damaging to the heart as was once suspected, but rather, processed carbohydrates and refined sweeteners are more to blame. Paleo naturally eliminates processed foods and refined or artificial sweeteners, but still, within a balanced Paleo diet, there are specific foods that can offer some great benefits for the heart and the cardiovascular system.
Known for its anti-inflammatory benefits (and whose heart doesn’t benefit from having lower systemic inflammation?), salmon is a superfood for the cardiovascular system because of its polyunsaturated fats. When consumed regularly, salmon can help to reduce blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, and improve vascular flow. Make sure it’s wild-caught, though, or you won’t get the full nutritional benefits. Farmed fish are lower in nutrients and higher in toxins.
Featured recipe: Chipotle Lime Salmon
Chipotle chili powder adds spice and color to this baked salmon recipe. The addition of lime brightens the flavor. Feel free to fry the salmon in a Paleo-approved fat instead of baking it, and to try this paleo recipe with trout, cod, or other kinds of fish according to taste and availability. All Paleo-friendly, wild-caught fish are supportive of cardiovascular health.
These “fatty” fruits are already a Paleo favorite, but they’re also great for heart health specifically because they provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats along with numerous vitamins and minerals that help keep the cardiovascular system strong: vitamin K (aids in proper blood clotting), magnesium (promotes muscle relaxation and electrolyte balance), and potassium (helps to regulate blood pressure).
Featured recipe: Shrimp and Avocado Omelet
This simple and colorful omelet features shrimp, buttery avocado, and fresh tomatoes. It’s possible to make this recipe the night before and have it ready to be warmed up for a super-quick breakfast in the morning. You can add some chopped onion and jalapeno pepper to the avocado-tomato mixture to make a spicy salsa topping if preferred, or substitute chicken, turkey, or fish for the shrimp.
Not sure what to do with these little grayish seeds (besides grow hair on clay planters)? You can add them to smoothies and salads, and because they absorb a shocking amount of liquid, you can even make chia pudding with them for a delicious Paleo alternative to oatmeal. Chia helps to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and can also help to reduce plaque build up in the arteries. They’re also great for helping the body stay hydrated since they do hold so much liquid, so eat them regularly if you sweat a lot during workouts or if its the heat of the summer.
Featured recipe: Berry Coconut Chia Smoothie
This smoothie is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making it perfect for a quick, healthy breakfast. You can use any berry of choice depending on availability and personal preference.
Not a fan of these honey-I-shrunk-the-cabbage heads? They’re delicious when roasted in avocado oil and tossed with bacon, but they’re also delectable for your cardiovascular health. Nutrients in Brussels sprouts help to lower systemic inflammation and reduce arterial plaque build up, along with improving blood vessel function.
Featured recipe: Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean you have to stop eating salads. This hearty salad is made with shredded Brussels sprouts and chopped apples and comes together with a lemony poppy seed dressing. Some toasted pecans add a nutty crunch factor for the perfect fall salad.