Photo Credit: Tina Chang/photolibrary/getty images
You’ve heard it all before, there are foods that should be on your “must-eat” list that are heart-protecting, nutritional powerhouses that will change your life. But -- there's always a but -- you still need to pay attention to how much of them you eat because some of the best foods for your body can pack on the pounds. Here are my top 5.
Peanuts are little nuggets of fiber and flavor. They're also the perfect combo of muscle-building protein and satiating omega-3 fats that together keep you feeling full for longer periods of time, making you less likely to overeat.
However, the same nutrients that work for you, can also work against you. The healthy fat content in peanuts can eat up all the fat grams in your daily calorie budget pretty fast. And a recent study suggests that the more you weigh, the more likely you are overeat because a glitch in the brain of obese women can no longer tell when you’re satiated. If weight loss is your goal, eat nuts no more than three times per week and stick to serving sizes (about 28 peanuts).
Same goes for almonds. They're heart healthy and their high levels of vitamins E and B, and magnesium will boost your immunity. But fat is fat. So if you stick to the typical serving size of 22 almonds two or three times a week and you'll have a healthier heart without sabotaging weight loss.
One of my faves for healthy fats, hands down! This creamy fruit contains 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat per serving and 2 grams of saturated fat (not so healthy). One avocado has more than a third of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C and even more Vitamin K. They're great in any salads, as a replacement for mayo or on a sandwich with veggies, greens and fresh herbs.
Since a half of an avocado is a whopping 160 calories, sticking to a few slices of an avocado (about a quarter) is the best thing you can do to prevent an expanding waistline while nurturing healthy heart.
Tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel are excellent sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, even in the can. The soft, edible bones in canned salmon and sardines are good calcium sources, too. But watch out for what it's packed in. While pouches are a little more convenient, they actually contain more than 300 mg of sodium for a 2-ounce serving, compared to 180 mg in canned varieties, especially tuna. To lower you sodium intake, and stay away from calorie-dense oil, opt for tuna in a can that's packed in water (it's lighter on your budget, too). Try a dinner splurge with seared fresh tuna or salmon with dill and lemon sauce.
Adding fruits and vegetables to your daily diet can protect you from heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. A diet rich in fruits and veggies can also boost your energy and metabolism, improve your mood and reduce inflammation in your body. It's my mantra and life’s purpose to get you to eat more colorful fruits and vegetables!
Whenever you can, buy fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables -- compared to dried fruits, they win hands down for their hi-volume, nutrient-dense, low-calorie, low-sugar content. Dried fruits can be part of a healthy diet, but at an average of close to 30 grams of sugar per serving, your best bet is to only choose it occasionally. Instead, opt for fresh fruits in season, grown locally if possible -- they will cost less and pay off for your health in the long run. Frozen or fresh, fruit has much less sugar content than their dried versions. So consider dried fruit a healthy treat, not a daily snack.