When it comes to foods that taste great and are good for your heart, you can’t do much better than berries. Red fruit and berries tend to have an overall good nutritional profile. They’re typically high in fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants. Adding red berries and other fruit to your diet could help improve your heart health and reduce symptoms of a number of chronic diseases.
So make sure your Valentine’s Day is packed with the right type of sweetness by eating some heart-healthy red fruit.
Five fruits full of hearty nutrients...
Strawberries are excellent for heart health. In fact, a study from the University of East Anglia involving over 93,000 women found that those who ate more than 3 portions of strawberries and blueberries per week had over a 30% lower risk of a heart attack. Other research has shown that strawberries may reduce the risk of heart disease by controlling blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidative stress.
Eight medium strawberries contain just 50 calories. They’re fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free and high in vitamin C and folate.
Cherries offer plenty of Valentine’s sweetness and are a good source of fibre. They are the ideal fruit to eat during early spring and summer while they’re in season - but there’s always the option to choose frozen cherries if you’d like to eat them throughout the year. Cherries provide the body with a high dose of anthocyanins that lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. They can also help to control your weight and improve your arterial health, reducing your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
You could try cherries in a smoothie, popping some in your porridge, or even baking a loved one a batch of muffins… seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day after all. They also go really well with chocolate and ginger.
Raspberries taste surprisingly sweet for how little sugar they contain - there’s only 4.4g of sugar per 100g. Raspberries are high in fibre, which means they help to lower cholesterol. They are low in fat and are rich in micronutrients (polyphenols), which help reduce heart disease risk. Top your Valentine’s Day pancakes with raspberries to please your partner and protect your heart.
Often confused as a vegetable, the humble tomato has two key nutrients that are vital for heart health: lycopene and potassium. The chemical lycopene is what gives the tomato its rich red colour - it’s also a powerful antioxidant, a type of substance that helps to prevent cells from becoming damaged. Some research suggests that lycopene may help to lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting.
Potassium is a mineral that plays a role in every heartbeat. It helps to trigger the heart to push blood around the body a hundred thousand times a day. This mineral can also help to reduce blood pressure by removing some of the sodium in the body, and relaxing the walls of blood vessels. This means eating tomatoes are both good for the heart and could reduce the risk of a stroke.
Cranberries are a powerhouse of essential nutrients.This tiny red-coloured fruit has a tangy, sour taste and is packed full of minerals, vitamin C, iron, potassium and calcium. Cranberries, like raspberries, are rich in polyphenols that are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. They are fat-free, free from cholesterol, low in sodium and a good source of dietary fibre. It’s understood that consuming foods containing high levels of fibre can significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Research has shown that cranberry juice is also particularly good for heart health. Many studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and ‘stiffness’ of the arteries. It is however important to note that you need to avoid drinking cranberry juice with lots of added sugar - as this can actually be counterproductive to heart health.