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5 Heart Healthy Snacks

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Highlights

We’re not strangers to midday hunger, or mid-morning hunger, or even midnight hunger. We love snacks — who doesn’t?

Snacking, however, gets a bad rap, mostly due to the prepackaged snack foods out there that are teeming with preservatives, sugar, salt, and trans fats. Worst of all, most of these snacks lack any real nutritional value and can be incredibly unhealthy for your heart.

Heart health is important for everyone, whether or not you carry a higher risk of developing heart disease. Keeping your heart healthy is an easy task when you understand what heart health is, what you can do to keep your heart healthy, and what can happen if your heart becomes unhealthy.

Thankfully, snacks don’t have to be bad for your heart. We’ve got five heart-healthy snack ideas to satisfy your cravings (even your sweet tooth), keep you full, and protect your ticker.

First, let’s talk about what makes our heart healthy.

What Is Heart Health?

Heart health is a combination of understanding what the heart does, and taking steps to ensure it can continue to work properly.

The heart muscle pumps blood to every other part of your body. The blood supply carries with it oxygen, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to ensure every organ gets the nourishment it needs to function properly. To accomplish this massive task, your heart beats about 2.5 billion times in your lifetime.

What Goes Wrong?

Without our interference, and barring any genetic disorder or congenital defect, our heart functions quite well. The problem is… us.

Through poor diets, bad lifestyle habits, and lack of movement, we reap negative health conditions on our bodies that burden our hearts and cause them to become sick and diseased.

The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease. This disease, characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries, starts as atherosclerosis. As unhealthy LDL cholesterol molecules build in our bloodstream, they stick to the walls of our arteries, causing blood vessels to narrow. This causes a partial or full block of the blood flow the heart would normally pump to the body through these vessels.

Heart disease has been the number one cause of death in the United States for more than 80 years. It’s time to learn how to fight back, one snack at a time.

Promoting Heart Health

Keeping our hearts healthy involves understanding our risks of developing heart-related illnesses as well as making good decisions that will benefit our hearts.

Understanding Our Risk

Every person’s risk of developing heart disease and heart-related illnesses varies. If you are born with a congenital heart defect, for instance, the way you approach your heart health will be different from someone who does not have that defect.

However, underlying medical conditions, that in many cases are preventable, can also increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease.

  • Type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels degrade the blood vessels and heart. Having high blood sugar can also be accompanied by other unhealthy conditions that make it more likely you’ll develop heart disease.

  • High blood pressure. Your blood pressure refers to the pressure of the blood inside your veins. When your veins are constricted, your blood pressure rises, which places an undue burden on the heart as it attempts to pump blood.

  • Unhealthy cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can increase your chance of atherosclerosis, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is crucial for your heart health.

In addition to these health concerns, maintaining a healthy weight is important for keeping your heart healthy and strong. The snacks you pick can help you establish a healthy baseline weight and hold it steady.

Making Better Choices

Once you understand your risk, you can make decisions that will effectively lower your risk.

Eating a healthy diet packed with vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains will benefit your heart and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Getting enough movement each day is also important. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, in addition to resistance exercises.

Last but certainly not least, getting regular check-ups with your healthcare provider is key to ensuring your heart is healthy and noticing any changes that need addressing.

Making better choices starts one decision at a time. Opting for heart healthy snacks is one way to support your heart and fuel your body.

Five Snacks That Your Heart Will Love

Heart healthy snacks can be wholesome, nutritious, and packed with flavor. These five snacks will keep you full and will help keep your blood sugar steady so you don’t have an energy crash after you eat.

1. Veggies and Hummus

Raw vegetables may not sound that appealing at first, but they’re packed with heart-heathy nutrients and fiber to keep you full. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, baby carrots, and snap peas are all portable, easy to prepare veggies that go great with your favorite chickpea spread, aka hummus!

You can easily change this snack by experimenting with different flavors of hummus. (Be aware that some hummus flavors can hide added sugar and sodium!)

Bonus points for using edamame, which is full of heart-loving magnesium and potassium.

2. Fruit and Nut Butter

Fruit is delicious on its own, chocked full of protective antioxidants and vitamins. Adding your favorite nut butter like almond butter or peanut butter adds protein, healthy fat, and keeps you full. Just be mindful of how much nut butter you add — 2 tbsp of peanut butter is close to 200 calories on its own!

Apple slices, bananas, and even pears work well for this wholesome snack. Not much of a fruit dipper? That’s okay. A divided container of berries and nut butter also makes a great sweet and protein-packed snack.

3. Nuts and Seeds

It can be tricky to eat nuts and seeds as a snack. They have plenty of protein and healthy fat, but if they’re roasted they may hide a lot of extra salt. It’s also really easy to overeat nuts and seeds. Remember that about a palm-full of nuts and seeds is already one serving.

Consider adding pumpkin seeds, almonds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds to the top of a salad, or on top of Greek yogurt. You can even make your own granola by combining them all and adding in dark chocolate pieces and/or raisins.

4. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has antioxidants that are beneficial for protecting the cells of your heart against oxidative stress. As with most everything, you only need a little. One ounce of dark chocolate (or approximately two small squares) is considered a serving.

The darker your chocolate, the better it is for your heart health. Have it alongside your matcha or coffee for the perfect bit of sweetness.

5. Whole-Grain Toast

A single slice of whole-grain toast and peanut butter can be a filling and hearty snack that packs in fiber, heart-healthy grains, and protein. If you’re really craving something sweet, top with a few banana slices.

Don’t have access to a toaster at work? Opt for whole-grain crackers instead. The childhood combination you love is still a delicious snack that is healthy for your heart.

Considering Supplements

Leveling up your snack time routine can help you fill in gaps in your diet, protect your heart, and even maintain a healthy weight.

When you’re ready to take another step towards optimizing your heart health, consider a supplement. We’d recommend C15:0.

C15:0: The Basics

C15:0, aka pentadecanoic acid, is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that science supports is the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered since the omega-3 fatty acids over 90 years ago.

Further, higher levels of C15:0 has been repeatedly associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improved heart health.

C15:0 helps support your health by nourishing your cells, the very foundation of every organ, tissue, and system in our bodies.* When our cells are healthy and functioning properly, our bodies are healthy and properly function.

Supporting our cellular health is important especially as we get older. When our cells age, they begin to lose function, which translates into age-related illnesses, including those that affect the heart.

C15:0 supports your cells in three important ways:*

  1. Stronger cell membranes. As our cells age, their protective membranes become weak and flimsy. Weaker cell membranes can mean a higher risk of oxidative stress, which can lead to faster declines in health sooner. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into our cell membranes, keeping them fortified and strong.

  2. Improved cardiometabolic health. C15:0 naturally binds to receptors found throughout our bodies, called PPARs, that help to regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose levels. Fatty15 supplementation can help to promote healthy cholesterol, triglyceride homeostasis, and heart health.

  3. Better mitochondrial function. Aging cells have sluggish mitochondria. When our mitochondria are sluggish, our cells can’t carry out their processes as efficiently because they’re not getting the fuel they need to thrive. C15:0 increases mitochondrial function by up to 45%.

C15:0 is an essential fatty acid, but since it’s found mostly in whole-fat dairy products, getting the amount you need can be tricky. After all, if you add in more whole-fat dairy, you could be adding in more calories and unhealthy fats your body doesn’t need. That’s where a C15:0 supplement could come into play.

You see, C15:0 attaches to branches of lipids or triacylglycerides. Our gut goes to work, breaking down these triacylglycerides to release C15:0 as a free fatty acid, ready for absorption. If that sounds like a lot of trouble (and not so efficient), it is.

So, we include the pure, unattached version of C15:0 as FA15™ in fatty15.

It’s a simple way to get the good fat, without the bad fat, sugars (aka lactose), or extra calories of whole-fat dairy products. Fatty15 is easier for your body to use and a great way to decrease cow and cattle reliance (and the general methane production issues surrounding them).

Best of all, fatty15 is a vegan-friendly choice to get C15:0, with just one calorie per dose.

Fatty15

Fatty15 is the smart, once-a-day capsule that contains just one simple ingredient: the pure, vegan-friendly version of C15:0.

Sustainably sourced, just one capsule per day is enough to restore your levels of C15:0 and give your cells a chance to thrive as you age.*

Snacking is back on the menu, and so is fat. Grab your favorite heart-healthy snack and add fatty15 to your health stack as the smart way to feel healthier and age smarter.*

Get started with fatty15 here.

Sources:

Heart Health - Harvard Health

FastStats - Leading Causes of Death|CDC

High cholesterol - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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