9 Heart-Healthy Breakfast Foods to Stock Up On
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day because it restores the body’s energy levels and alertness, and gets the body’s metabolism started again after waking up. The foods that we choose to eat for that meal are important as well as they impact the health of our body. When it comes to our heart’s health some foods, like sugar-packed cereals or greasy bacon, can get the day going on a bad foot. Instead, choose heart-healthy breakfast foods, which are not only a nutritious way to start the day, but can also help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Here are some of the best heart-healthy breakfast foods that you should stock up on to make sure your ticker is working at its best.
Making oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to save time, as it’s a quick and easy meal to put together. It’s also a great way to keep your heart healthy, as oatmeal is high in fiber, which helps to maintain great heart health.
“Oats are high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol levels,” says Amber Dixon, RD and CEO of Elderly Guides. “It acts by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Furthermore, oats are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium, making them a heart-healthy option.”
Avoid adding excess sugars by preparing your own oats, rather than using packages of instant oatmeal. It’s still a simple breakfast but without overly-processed ingredients.
Avocados are good for more than just whipping up a batch of guacamole — the fruit is a great option for helping to maintain a well-functioning heart. Conveniently, avocados are a fairly versatile breakfast food and can be sliced and put onto toast for a filling avocado toast, or mixed into a smoothie for a heart-healthy breakfast.
“High in monounsaturated fats, avocados can help reduce levels of bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol,” Dixon says. “They are also a good source of heart-healthy vitamins like potassium and antioxidants.”
Not only are avocados great for your heart, but there’s a whole host of health benefits that come with eating them. The fruits are packed with nutrients and are a great source of fiber, which means that they’re beneficial for gut health as well.
3. Citrus fruits
It’s said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if you want to avoid visits to a cardiologist, it’s best to stick to oranges. Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruit, and mandarins, are high in dietary fiber, which can help to lower cholesterol levels, according to a 2016 review published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports.
“They are high in fiber, cholesterol-lowering pectin, and heart-healthy antioxidants,” Dixon says. “Also, the potassium in oranges helps control blood pressure.”
Not only are citrus fruits great for keeping your heart at its best, but they’re also a great source of vitamin C, which helps to maintain healthy skin and bones.
“These are not just heart healthy but also generally beneficial for overall health,” Dixon says. “They are packed with vital nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, making them superior to processed or high-sugar foods.”
Whether you’re eating them scrambled, in an omelet, or sunny side up, eggs are an excellent source of protein and vitamin D, and can even help to make your heart more healthy.
“Eggs are not only a great source of protein, but they also provide a good source of healthy fats,” says Jesse Feder, RD at My Crohns and Colitis Team. “The fats in eggs can also help reduce your LDL or bad cholesterol levels which can prevent clogged arteries. Additionally, the high amount of protein is great for building lean muscle and supporting your heart health.”
It’s important to not overdo it on the eggs, though. While some studies have found that excessive egg eating is actually detrimental to heart health, a 2022 study published in Nutrients found that eating between one and three eggs a week lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease by up to 60%.
5. Whole grains
One of the best things about including whole grains in your breakfast diet is its versatility: you can make whole-grain banana muffins, eat avocado toast on a slice of whole-grain bread, or enjoy a fiber-dense granola bar to start the morning. The other best thing? Whole grains are high in fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
“Whole grains are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber,” Feder says. “They are great for controlling blood sugar levels as well as preventing you from overeating. This can promote healthy weight loss and reduce the load put on the heart.”
6. Greek yogurt
One of the simplest breakfasts to put together is yogurt — add some honey, fruit, or nuts and you have a perfect breakfast that’s packed full of nutrients and protein and helps to keep your heart healthy.
“Greek yogurt is known as a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics,” says Catherine Gervacio, RD and nutrition writer for Living.fit. “It is lower in sugar compared to regular yogurt and contains less sodium. The protein and probiotics in Greek yogurt can help reduce blood pressure and improve gut health, which indirectly supports heart health.”
Gervacio recommends eating Greek yogurt with some fruit, or adding it to a smoothie, for a heart-supporting breakfast.
7. Chia seeds
Chia seeds aren’t a meal in themselves, but they are a great accompaniment to many breakfast foods to make them more heart-healthy. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, chia seeds contain quercetin, a plant pigment that significantly lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
“Chia seeds are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, micronutrients, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fat — a heart-healthy fat that is associated with decreased risk of inflammation and chronic diseases like heart disease,” says Johna Burdeos, RD. “Components in chia seeds have been shown to support heart health by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, oxidation, and platelet aggregation.”
Chia seeds can be added to Greek yogurt, smoothies, or more savory breakfast dishes like avocado toast.
Packed full of protein, nuts are another great food to stock up on that’s easy to add to any breakfast. In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating tree nuts, like almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts, twice or more a week is associated with a significantly lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Nuts are super easy to add to your breakfast,” Burdeos says. “They’re loaded in nutrients, phytochemicals, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fat. Nuts help protect against cardiovascular disease by improving lipid profile, lowering oxidative stress, and improving endothelial (the inner lining in blood vessels) function.”
Make pecan waffles, put some macadamia nuts in a smoothie, or add some almonds into Greek yogurt for a heart-healthy and nutrient-dense breakfast.
The British knew what they were doing when they started serving beans on toast for breakfast. Incorporating beans into your breakfast helps to increase your fiber intake, which helps to keep your digestive system healthy, and also helps to lower bad cholesterol, making your heart healthier.
“Incorporating beans into your breakfast offers an array of heart-healthy benefits,” says Dalia Beydoun, RD. “Beans are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. They are also packed with plant-based protein, making them a great alternative to processed meats that can increase the risk of heart disease. Additionally, beans contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting overall heart health.”
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