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Want a Healthy Heart? Start With Natural, Whole Foods

February is National Heart Health Month, making it the perfect time to highlight some foods that promote heart health, as well as list those that do more harm than good.

While heart disease can be hereditary, its prevention begins with a healthy lifestyle. For starters, this means no smoking, monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and incorporating exercise and a healthy, well-balanced diet into your everyday routine.

Diet alone can play a huge role in heart disease prevention. In general, heart healthy foods are ones that are natural, whole foods that don’t come in a box and instead come straight from nature. Fresh fruits and vegetables are certainly a cornerstone of heart-healthy foods for their high nutrient and vitamin content and their amazing ability to cleanse free radicals from the blood stream.

Foods containing antioxidants are essential for heart health because they protect the body from damage caused by oxidation – a process brought on by free radicals formed from things like cigarette smoke, radiation and pollution in the environment.

Foods containing antioxidants include fruits like berries, vegetables like kale, and even indulgent items like dark chocolate and red wine. Other heart-healthy foods contain unsaturated fats like those found in walnuts and almonds, and omega-3 fatty acids like those found in flaxseed and salmon. Foods to avoid include those that are fried, high in salt, heavily processed, or high in saturated fat…

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