by Dr. Janet Brill, Registered Dietitian and Cardiovascular Nutritionist
Fabulous Figs and Other Fruit for Your Heart: What Eating Fruit Can Do for You
Sweet and delicious raw, dried, or as jam, figs are one of the plant kingdom’s brightest stars in terms of calcium and fiber content.
However, what really labels figs as a bonafide heart attack prevention superfood is their extraordinary amount of carotenoids, most notably lycopene, lutein, and betacarotene.
Few foods on earth are known to contain such an array of heart health-promoting antioxidants. Eating figs and other fruit is key to heart health.
Studies show that people who eat a diet rich in fruit are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.
Figs and other fruit are one of the eight key food groups that are part of my plan to reverse heart disease, or build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles.
Other foods you should include in your heart-healthy diet are extra virgin olive oil, leafy greens, lentils and other legumes, salmon and other seafood, walnuts and flax seeds, oatmeal and other whole grains, and red wine.
(Dark chocolate is a bonus food in this plan. Yippee!)
Figs, like many of the fruit that Mother Nature has so generously provided us, are nutrient-dense, meaning you get a big nutritional bang for your calorie buck.
Fruit contains a good amount of fiber, vitamins, and potassium, plus an extraordinary array of potent plaque-fighting polyphenols. These sweet treats should be part of everyone’s heart-disease-fighting arsenal.
Daily intake of a variety of different types of fruit is good for the heart.
Aim to mix-n-match your fruit for health. Try a Mediterranean-style fruit such as figs or pomegranate, a vitamin C-rich fruit such as kiwi, and don’t forget the other fruits such as apples or bananas.
Consuming at least three fruits a day can boost your heart disease defense system by:
Here are a few of the ideas to help you get in your minimum of three servings of whole fruit a day:
If wild rice isn’t available, this salad can be made with 2 1/2 cups of another cooked whole grain, such as brown rice or wheat-berries.
2 1/2 cups of cooked wild rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2/3 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toss all ingredients together and serve cold.
NUTRITION per 1/2 cup serving:
Fat: 5 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, < 1 g ALA) Saturated Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 40 mg Carbohydrate: 21 g Dietary Fiber: 3 g Sugars: 7 g Protein: 3 g
(published April 15, 2014)
Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention. She is the author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks – Without Prescription Drugs (Three Rivers Press, 2006), and Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease (Three Rivers Press, Feb. 2011). To learn more about Dr. Janet, get delicious heart-healthy recipes, or buy her books, please visit DrJanet.com or PreventaSecondHeartAttack.com.