10 best foods for your heart

Keeping your heart healthy is about more than avoiding fast food and overly processed chow.

So which food groups have the most science behind their heart-healthy claims?

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Oats and barley

The cell walls contain beta-glucans which bind to bile acids and cholesterol in the intestines and prevent their absorption into the body.

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Salmon and other fatty fish

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, have been shown to prevent heart attacks by helping the heart maintain its rhythm in human clinical trials.

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Dark leafy greens

Greens are chock-full of calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Fiber helps you feel full and helps with weight control, which is key to good heart health.

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Nuts and seeds

Unsalted seeds and nuts are high in minerals known to reduce blood pressure. Beware of the added salt, sugar or chocolate that is so appealing on nuts — it’s not good for heart health.

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Beets are full of nitric oxide, which can help open blood vessels. They’re also one of the only sources of belatin, a powerful antioxidant with high anti-inflammatory qualities.

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A study found that replacing saturated fat with one nutrient-packed avocado a day could lead to up to a 13.5 milligrams-per-deciliter reduction in blood pressure.

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Olive oil

Monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol. But beware, it’s extremely high in calories.

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The high level of soluble fiber found in legumes is known to lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. They contain no cholesterol and are only about 3% fat.

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Low-fat dairy

It may seem odd to include dairy in a list of top heart-healthy foods, but it turns out that milk, cheese and yogurt can help reduce blood pressure.

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Low-sodium foods

Part of a heart-healthy diet is watching your salt intake. To reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, limit the amount of processed foods you consume.

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Experts say that rather than focusing on just one or two heart-healthy foods, you would be better served to eat a well-rounded diet that focuses on healthy foods of all types and colors.

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