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Top 5 Foods for a Heart Healthy Diet

        Health | Heart

4
Legumes
Legumes come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.
Legumes come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.
Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

"Beans, beans, good for your heart, the more you eat" -- well, you know the rest. In this case, we're talking about the black beans in your Mexican food, the kidney beans in your veggie chili and other legumes like soybeans and lentils. If you're from the American South, you may want to chow down on some lima beans or black eyed peas. For an Asian flare, steam some edamame with a little bit of light soy sauce. Some whole wheat pita bread with hummus makes a nice snack and incorporates your whole grain and your legume -- hummus is made from chickpeas. Even Hannibal Lecter showed his heart-healthy side by feasting on fava beans with a nice Chianti (red wine is good for you too, but we'll get to that later). Try to avoid canned beans. It may take longer to soak and cook the fresh ones, but they taste better, they aren't packed with sodium and preservatives, and they're cheaper to boot.

­So now that your mouth is watering, what's so great about legumes? They're chock full of protein and are virtually fat-free, for one. They also don't contain any cholesterol and are loaded with fiber, iron, calcium and potassium. Beans are so good for you that the FDA approved the following message in 2005 for the American Dry Bean Board to place on its packaging: "Diets including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers." 

That should be enough to make anyone a regular bean counter.