8 Powerful Whole-Food Choices For Heart-Healthy Snacks
Your heart is an incredible, hard-working organ. Every beat of this powerful muscle sends nutrient-rich blood throughout your whole body, providing the building blocks of life. With about 100,000 beats each and every day, the health of your heart determines the health and vitality of your entire being. Focusing on heart-healthy snacks can be an investment in your long-term health.
The foods you eat have the potential to provide your cardiovascular system with essential nutrients that protect long-term function. Diets high in omega-3 fats, vitamins E and K, fiber, and antioxidants are proven heart-boosters. Viewed through the lens of heart health, every meal and snack is a chance to support this vital organ.
With that in mind, we put together this list of low-carb snacks that will help fuel you and give your heart the nutrients it needs to keep beating and stay strong.
Eight low-carb, sugar-free, heart-healthy snacks.
The next time you reach for a snack, use it as an opportunity to boost your intake of foods that protect your heart. Rather than opting for packaged snack foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, choose one of these heart-healthy snacks to avoid the bad stuff and supply the good things your heart needs.
Sliced Cucumber with Tuna Salad
Tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat beneficial for heart health. Regular fish consumption is associated with decreased risk of heart disease and mortality. Packed with vitamin K, cucumbers make a great complement to your favorite low-carb tuna salad by supporting the health of the vascular system, keeping arteries flexible and protecting your blood vessels from calcification.
Cherry Tomatoes with Basil and Mozzarella
While raw tomatoes don’t provide as much of the powerful nutrient lycopene as their cooked counterparts, they do provide significant amounts of other antioxidants linked to heart health. One analysis found that:
“Other cardioprotective functions provided by the nutrients in tomatoes may include the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, platelet aggregation, and blood pressure.”
All that from a handful of cherry tomatoes! In addition, the antioxidants found in basil provide protection from oxidative stress, a major player in heart disease.
Baked Kale Chips
Leafy greens are high on the list of powerful superfoods, and kale is no exception. Packed with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. In addition to the protection it provides against oxidative stress, kale also contains compounds that bind with bile acids in the digestive system. By binding and eliminating bile acids, kale aids in lowering cholesterol levels in the body.
Kale chips are easy to bake with a drizzle of oil or avocado oil and a dash of salt. They provide a satisfying crunch and a fiber boost to keep you full.
Hard-boiled egg topped with sauerkraut
Eggs used to be considered a culprit in the development of heart disease. Thankfully, we now know better. Eggs are an excellent source of protein that promotes satiety. They can also be a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats if you choose high omega 3 varieties.
If you’ve never topped your eggs with sauerkraut, you’re in for a treat. The tangy, salty flavor of sauerkraut perfectly complements eggs in all forms. In addition, sauerkraut provides beneficial probiotics that may reduce “bad” cholesterol and decrease inflammation. Probiotics may also lower blood pressure, making fermented foods like sauerkraut a powerful heart-healthy snack.
Spiced nut mix
When it comes to heart-healthy snacks, nuts are one of the best choices. They provide significant protection from heart disease by improving blood lipids, fighting inflammation, decreasing insulin resistance, and supporting the gut microbiome.
You can power up your nut mix by adding a blend of heart-healthy spices. Just toss raw nuts with a bit of olive or avocado oil, coat them in a spice blend of your choice, and bake. Here are some spices known to support cardiovascular health:
- Black pepper
Smoothies are a great way to blend up a bunch of nutrients that support your cardiovascular system and make for one of the easiest heart-healthy snacks. Try some of these heart-approved ingredients:
Yogurt. Regular yogurt intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
Avocado. The fat in avocados comes from monounsaturated fatty acids, which are linked to improved blood lipids and decreased risk of heart disease.
Leafy greens. One study found that one cup per day of leafy greens significantly reduced the risk of heart disease. Getting a cup of greens in a smoothie is a piece of cake!
Almond butter. Almonds improve blood lipids by lowering LDL and raising HDL. They also contain high amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the heart.
Guacamole with veggie sticks
Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats to protect your heart and keep you full, guacamole belongs on any list of heart-healthy snacks. Avocados are also a high source of fiber, with a whopping 13 grams of fiber in just one avocado. Fiber protects heart health by reducing cholesterol, promoting the health of the microbiome, decreasing inflammation, and improving blood sugar regulation.
One large analysis of hundreds of studies found that people who consumed the highest amounts of fiber had the most protection against heart disease.
Avocado slices wrapped in smoked salmon
Salmon has one of the highest amounts of omega 3 fatty acids out there. Wrapping an avocado slice in a strip of smoked salmon provides two of the best heart-healthy fats you can find.
Omega-3 fatty acids provide significant protective benefits like:
- Lower triglycerides
- Increase HDL (good) cholesterol
- Prevent blockage of coronary arteries
- Decrease abnormal heart rhythms
- Decrease plaque build-up in the arteries
- Reduce inflammation
Keep Heart-Healthy Snacks Handy
Protecting your cardiovascular system is an investment in wellness and longevity. In addition to all of your other good habits, such as exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutrient-rich foods at every meal provides your heart with the nutrition it needs to stay strong for your whole life.
Snacks don’t have to be your enemy. If you choose well, snack time can be delicious, satisfying, and heart-healthy.
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