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Heart Healthy Foods

Walnuts
Walnuts are another food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and may reduce the risk for heart disease. Walnuts are most beneficial when used to replace less healthy fats such as saturated fat from meat. Walnuts have not been shown to raise HDL or lower LDL. To possibly lower the risk for heart disease, a person must consume at least 1.5 grams of walnuts a day as part of a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet.
 
Olive Oil
Limited and inconclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.
 
Certain Types of Nuts
Scientific evidence suggests (but does not prove) that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. Specific nuts that can claim this possible reduction in heart disease risk include:
 
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Some pine nuts
  • Pistachio nuts.
     
Alcohol
Drinking alcohol in moderation has also been shown to decrease the risk for developing heart disease. In fact, moderate amounts of alcohol have actually been shown to help protect against heart disease, stroke, and heart- or blood vessel-related death, reducing the risk between 25 and 40 percent.
 
(Click Alcohol and Heart Disease for more information.)
 

Foods Not Making the Cut

There are a number of foods (along with herbs and other supplements) that claim to be heart healthy by reducing the risk for heart disease. While a number of these foods, such as garlic or soy protein, may be considered "heart healthy foods" because they are low in saturated fat, they do not decrease the risk for developing heart disease.
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