5 Heart-Smart Fall Foods

Good nutrition is essential in your fight against heart disease, and autumn offers some of the most colorful-and healthful-foods. To stay heart healthy, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you stick to a diet that includes:

  • At least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day
  • At least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish (preferably an oily fish like salmon) a week
  • At least three one-ounce-equivalent servings a day of fiber-rich whole grains
  • At least four servings a week of nuts, legumes, and seeds
  • No more than two servings a week of processed meats

Here are five fall food groups that are tasty, packed with heart-healthy vitamins and minerals, and will keep you feeling satisfied all season long.

1. Root vegetables: Full of essential nutrients, root vegetables are found below ground and include:

  • Carrots, a rich source of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant
  • Sweet potatoes, good for boosting energy and helping lower blood pressure
  • Onions, contain flavonoids, which help reduce the risk of heart disease

2. Winter squash: Although available from August through March, winter squash are at their peak of flavor from October to November when they are in season. Full of beta-carotene, which prevents the oxidation of cholesterol in the body, winter squash helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Some types of winter squash include:

  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Hubbard squash
  • Turban squash
  • Pumpkins (sugar or pie pumpkins yield more edible flesh than the kinds commonly used for carving.)

3. Fruits: These fruits are packed with essential vitamins, including A, C and, E, as well as potassium and fiber. They help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and control blood sugars:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Papaya

4. Nuts and Seeds: Nuts are recommended as part of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, a plan designed to reduce blood pressure. Some nutrition-rich nuts include:

  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds

Heart-healthy seeds include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

5. Legumes: Each of the below legumes is loaded with nutrients that can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils

Whole Foods. "Winter squash."

American Heart Association. Nutrition Center.

Heart Healthy Living. "Cleveland Clinic's Top Beans and Legumes."