As one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States, heart disease is pretty scary. But here’s the thing: Eight out of 10 cases of cardiovascular disease are preventable, meaning you can take certain steps to drastically reduce your risk. And one of the tastiest things you can do is eat lots of heart-healthy fruits and veggies.
Worried about how sad the produce section seems this time of year? It just so happens that many of the fruits and veggies in season in the winter also happen to be great for your heart. Here are five you’ll want to grab on your next trip to the store:
Kale: “Leafy greens are rich in folic acid, which can help relax blood vessels and control blood pressure,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It. If those huge leaves intimidate you, look for bags of tender baby kale instead.
Pomegranates: The ruby red seeds of this fruit are packed with antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. “Add them to your salad or splash some pomegranate juice into club soda with a twist of lime for a refreshing mocktail,” says Taub-Dix.
Butternut Squash: “This vegetable is rich in potassium, which can help control blood pressure and prevent strokes,” says Taub-Dix. “And the carotenoids found in orange and yellow vegetables may help lower blood pressure.” Another benefit: It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, helping improve cholesterol and keeping you feeling full.
Beets: Here’s a new reason to, ahem, root for this vegetable. They contain something called betaine, which can lower levels of heart-harming amino acids. They are also a good source of folic acid, which lowers blood pressure. You can often find them pre-roasted, so they’re ready to eat.
Citrus Fruits: These sunny fruits have potassium, fiber, folate, and B vitamins—all of which have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. They also happen to be their most delicious in the winter.
Alice Oglethorpe is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, IL. She covers health, happiness, fitness, and anything else that piques her interest. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Self, Shape, Fitness, Redbook, Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Psychology Today, Good Housekeeping, and more.