When you're trying to load up on protein to build muscle and recover after a workout, it's easy to forget that you need to take care of your heart, too. You know, that muscle in your chest that pumps blood through your entire body? You've got to treat it well or risk slowing down from high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Here are some heart-healthy foods that can easily fit into your diet when you're on the go between workouts, practices and games.
Loaded with omega-3 unsaturated fats, which reduce the risk of heart disease, fatty fish like salmon can help prevent blood clots, lower triglycerides and increase HDL (the good) cholesterol. Try Salmon Burgers for a quick and easy dinner, or use canned salmon in a salad for lunch.
Full of fiber, oatmeal can help lower cholesterol. It contains naturally occurring chemicals called lignans, which protect against heart disease and cancer. If plain oatmeal is too bland for you, try Kath Eats' Overnight Oats for something different.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnuts and flaxseed provide easy ways to get more omega 3 fats, and they also contain phytosterols—plant compounds that help lower cholesterol. Make a few bags of trail mix on weekends to use as pre-workout snacks. Add flaxseed to smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt.
Along with fiber and protein, beans are rich in B vitamins, which fight blood clots and hardening of the arteries. Rather than a lettuce salad for lunch, start with a base of lentils or black beans. Add some chopped veggies or make a bean dip for your next snack.
Blueberries are not only full of fiber, they're one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. Antioxidants reduce the risk of heart disease. For an afternoon snack, sprinkle blueberries on Greek yogurt.
Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, antioxidants that improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps lower cholesterol and normalize blood clotting. For a healthy homemade salad dressing, mix olive oil with lemon juice and spices.
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