Good foods for heart health

Published 9:21 am Thursday, February 14, 2013

This month I’ve been thinking a lot about heart health, namely in relation to how stress can effect your circulatory system.

Around the newsroom we’re heavily into Crossroads season, a time when the majority of us tend to overload our already busy schedules with tasks to do for this annual publication.

While I cannot necessarily control the stress level at work, I decided I can control how I handle it. And certainly I can strive for those five to nine servings of fruits or vegetables per day.

Growing up in a rural town, I was exposed to the benefits of having fresh produce at my fingertips, whether it be from my family’s garden or shopping at local farmers’ stands. Most of our family dinners were made from produce we purchased from those stands. It’s there I began to understand what it meant to eat “good.”

Those lessons have spilled over into my adulthood and while a trip to a local restaurant is a typical occurrence for me with my work schedule, I still try to weave in that “good” food.

Of course when I stumbled upon on an article about the healthiest foods for women, I had to read about the best superfoods out there.

If you’re not quite sure what “superfoods” are, in a brief definition they are the cream of the crop of good foods. They are foods that if you were to be dropped off on a deserted island that happened to have these…you’d be just fine when they came back to get you five years later.

While the article indicates the following superfoods are “for women,” I’m certain men could benefit from them as well.

Wild Alaskan salmon:

Salmon is often at the top of the list when it comes to superfoods and with this one it was no different. Why? Omega 3s including a fatty acid called DHA. Omega 3s are known to be good for the heart, can boost mood, fight depression, and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Salmon also offers Vitamin D and DHA helps with a healthy pregnancy.

The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings per week of fatty fish like salmon. Experts say canned salmon is almost as good if you can’t find fresh.

Wild blueberries:

Blueberries are known to not only help prevent memory loss, but also may improve motor skills and help lower blood pressure. The berries, high in antioxidants, help fight wrinkles as well. Wild blueberries have compounds called anthocyanins, one of the most powerful forms of antioxidants. They’re also low in calories.
One half of a cup to one cup of any kind of berries a day is recommended, but mix in wild blueberries as much as possible. Frozen berries are just as good.


Oats are known to lower cholesterol. They are also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, both help you to feel full as well as keeping your digestive track regular. The American Heart Association recommends 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber a day.


Research that suggests the chemicals in cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, may help prevent breast cancer by fighting excess estrogen. Rich in vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A, broccoli helps you feel full on less than 30 calories per serving. It also serves up good doses of fiber, folate (folic acid), calcium, iron, and potassium.

Two or more half of a cup servings per week of either cooked or fresh broccoli is recommended.
Some other superfoods include walnuts, avocados, red beans, greek yogurt, olive oil and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, dark chocolate.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.