Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 5 Foods for a Heart Healthy Diet

        Health | Heart

Whole Grains
A nice bowl of brown rice will satisfy your daily whole grain requirement.
A nice bowl of brown rice will satisfy your daily whole grain requirement.
Tim Graham/Getty Images

A whole grain contains the entire kernel; refined grains have been milled -- a process that removes the bran and germ. Ditching these two ingredients may help the shelf life, but it removes B vitamins, fiber and iron. Some refined grains are enriched, meaning some of the vitamin B and iron is added back into it, but you still miss out on the fiber. So what's the big deal about eating the entire kernel and loading up on fiber? You can cut your risk of heart disease by about 15 percent, that's what. This happens because fiber acts like a Brillo pad on the inside of your artery walls, cleaning out the bad cholesterol before it has a chance to stick around. Whole grains are also packed with vitamin E and as most people know, the fiber will aid your digestion -- an added bonus. If you want to make the switch from refined to whole grains altogether, you can reduce your risk of heart trouble by up to 30 percent.

S­o what are whole grains? Oatmeal, for one. And yes, we mean the plain old boring oatmeal, not the yummy sweet packets we discussed on the previous page. You can sweeten your oatmeal with a little cinnamon or scoop a little fresh fruit preserves in while cooking. You can even cook it with a blend of apple juice and water. If oatmeal isn't your thing, get a high fiber, whole grain cereal. Just one bowl of Raisin Bran a day can lower your cholesterol level by 16 to 28 points. Look for breads that list whole wheat as the leading ingredient and try brown rice instead of white.