Let’s face it, we all snack throughout the day, so why not talk about heart-healthy snaking in celebration of Heart Month in February. Here are 6 on-the-go snacks that can, surprisingly, help your heart.
Popcorn: Popcorn delivers polyphenols—antioxidants linked to improving heart health. Gram for gram, popcorn boasts three times more polyphenols than kidney beans (the highest vegetable polyphenol source) and four times more than cranberries (the best fruit source), according to recent research out of the University of Scranton.
Dark Chocolate: Researchers have discovered that eating moderate amounts of flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. Some research also suggests cocoa may help lower blood pressure.
Yogurt: Research shows yogurt may protect against gum disease. And people with gum disease—which affects up to 50 percent of American adults—are twice as likely to suffer from heart problems.
Apples: Apples were associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease in the Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has been tracking 34,000-plus women for nearly 20 years.
Nuts: Nuts are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Research suggests that people who eat nuts—walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts (which actually are legumes)—two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who eat them less often.
Raisins: Raisins may help protect both your gums and your heart. Research has shown that antioxidants in raisins fight the growth of a type of bacteria that can cause inflammation and gum disease.