The next time you're craving a snack, reach for one of these healthy and tasty treats. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and heart-friendly nutrients, these super-snacks will please your appetite and your heart!
- BERRIES - Cure a sweet tooth with a bowl of mixed berries! Rich in antioxidants, fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or boysenberries not only boost your immune system, they relax your blood vessels which can lower blood pressure!
- NUTS - Almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias and walnuts are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They're also high in "good" monosaturated fat, which helps lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. However, nuts are also high in calories so try not to over-indulge. An ounce a day is plenty!
- GREEN TEA - Like berries, the antioxidants in green tea improve the flexibility of blood vessels and make them less vulnerable to clogging. Green tea and its extract have also been shown to fight obesity and lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes!
- APPLES - In the Iowa Women's Health Study, which has been tracking over 34,000 women for nearly 20 years, apples have been associated with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease! Rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, apples prevent "bad" LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and triggering buildup of plaque in arteries, as well as inhibiting inflammation.
- BANANAS - One banana has 422 mg of potassium; about 12% of your recommended daily dose! This potassium helps maintain normal heart function and the balance of sodium and water in the body, contributing to healthy blood pressure. Potassium is especially important for people taking diuretics for heart disease, since they inadvertently strip potassium from the body.
- POPCORN - Popcorn is a whole-grain treat packed with antioxidants and ferulic acid, which exhibits a wide range of therapeutic effects against cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative diseases (like Alzheimer's). In addition, people who eat plenty of whole grains tend to be leaner, also lowering the risk of heart disease!
- DARK CHOCOLATE - Yes, chocolate! Researchers have discovered that eating moderate amounts of flavanol-rich dark chocolate preserves the healthy function of blood vessels and lowers the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia!
Keep your snack drawer stocked with heart-healthy options so when hunger strikes, you aren't tempted by the convenience of junk food. Remember, food fuels your body: what you eat, affects your performance and health.
The Nutrition Centre located at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa offers a variety of services and programs from registered dietitians who will help you build a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet!