Top 5 Foods for a Heart Healthy Diet



This little guy has the right idea by eating nuts.
This little guy has the right idea by eating nuts.
Steve Allen/Getty Images

This one is easy. It takes no preparation time and no imagination to consume them. Nuts are a great source of healthful fats and proteins. Healthful fats are unsaturated and there are two kinds -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The mono variety raises your good cholesterol levels. What's really cool is that your bad cholesterol is no match for your good cholesterol. So when you eat nuts and other monounsaturated fats, your good cholesterol acts like a bouncer and escorts your bad cholesterol to your liver, where it's filtered from your body like a bad drunk.

Nuts are also packed with flavonoids, an antioxidant that also raises the levels of your good cholesterol. What kinds of nuts should you eat? Any kind really, as long as they aren't coated with sugar and salt. So no honey-roasted or heavily salted peanuts, and leave the candied walnuts alone. Almonds and walnuts top the list of heart healthy nuts -- they're bursting with omega-3s, vitamin E, fiber, folate and magnesium. Most doctors recommend a handful of nuts every day. They can help you pack on the pounds though, so don't sit down in front of the TV and go through an entire can. Like always, moderation is the key.