DEAR DOCTOR K: You’ve written about “superfoods” that deliver a lot of nutritional bang for their buck. Do you have a list of superfoods for heart health?
DEAR READER: Many foods — from the everyday to the exotic — are rich in nutrients that help keep heart disease at bay. That’s good news, and it’s been documented in many scientific studies. My colleagues in nutrition science at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School have published the following list of heart-healthy superfoods. They and I use the word “superfoods” advisedly. Obviously, no food offers anything like perfect protection against any illness. But many foods, when regularly consumed as part of your diet, improve your odds of escaping heart disease. Since heart disease is the No. 1 cause of premature death, I’d call foods that reduce that risk “super.” Here’s a list:
•Oatmeal helps lower cholesterol. Oats also keep blood sugar steady, reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes, both linked to heart disease.
•Oranges are rich in cholesterol-reducing soluble fiber; in potassium, which helps control blood pressure; and in vitamin C.
•Beans provide hearty doses of protein, fiber and minerals. They can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and keep your blood sugar from spiking.
•Spinach and kale are dark, leafy greens that are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. They deliver a lot of nutrients without a lot of calories.
•Avocados are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They contain substantial amounts of fiber, potassium, several vitamins and compounds that help lower cholesterol.