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'Sweet' Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating

  • Category: Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Tammy Nunez
'Sweet' Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating

What foods should we avoid in the quest for healthy hearts? Fatty foods come to mind? 

Our expert said: think sweeter.   

North Oaks Dietetic Internship Director Leslie Ballard pointed out that avoiding sugary foods that cause inflammation is as, if not more important than focusing on saturated fat, in contributing to heart health. 

Inflammation of the heart or its valves can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, and other serious health problems. When people consume food and drinks loaded with processed chemicals and excessive sugar, the body stages an inflammatory response, identifying those ingredients as harmful. 

Leslie Ballard, North Oaks Dietetic Internship Director

The inflammation can cause damage to all parts of the body, including the heart. 

Foods with added sugar are a major source of inflammation risk. Think about ingredients like fructose, sucralose, and sucrose. Those are all linked to increasing inflammation in the body. Soda, alcohol, some dairy products, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats all fit into this category. 

People who have intolerances or allergies to dairy or gluten should avoid those sources all together to prevent inflammation.  

The good news is there are plenty of foods proven to REDUCE inflammation in your body. Some heart-healthy additions to your diet include fish, fruit, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli, nuts and seeds, beans and certain spices. 

Turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, and green herbs also help reduce inflammation in the body. Green tea and moderate consumption of red wine do the same. 

To get you on your way, Ballard shared an anti-inflammatory iced tea recipe: 

Anti-inflammatory Lemon Ginger Turmeric Iced Tea 


1 ½ quarts of water 
1 ginger root, rough chopped (or more to taste) 
Dash of turmeric  
Dash of cinnamon 
2 tablespoons maple syrup  


1. Fill a 2-quart pot about ¾ full with water.
2. Add in all other ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
4. Then, remove from heat and allow the drink to cool off.
5. Strain into a glass jar. 
6. Chill overnight and enjoy! 

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