If you want to keep your ticker in tiptop shape, a heart-healthy meal first thing in the morning is the best place to start. And there's one breakfast that stands above the rest according to a cardiologist: avocado toast with a side of fruit.
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This trendy toast lives up to the hype, boasting a bevy of benefits to support a strong heart. And when you pair it with fruit like berries or bananas, you reap even more pros for your pumper.
Why Avocado Toast and Fruit Should Be Your Go-To Heart-Healthy Breakfast
1. It Packs Heart-Healthy Vitamins and Minerals
From whole-grain bread and avocado to berries and bananas, every ingredient in this breakfast combo supplies a slew of vitamins and minerals that your body needs for a strong heart.
Whole grains contain B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, which are essential for a healthy metabolism and nervous system while another B vitamin, folate, plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells, per the USDA. Whole grains are also plentiful in iron, which carries oxygen in the blood.
And the benefits of eating whole grains add up to big long-term gains for your health: A March 2015 study in BMC Medicine observed that habitual whole-grain eaters had a 17 percent decreased risk of death from all causes, including heart disease, compared to people who ate the fewest whole grains.
And for a truly heart-healthy fruit, pick a banana. "Bananas are packed with potassium, which improves endothelial and vascular function and lowers blood pressure," says John Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston.
Indeed, diets rich in potassium are associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular events, according to an August 2011 study in Current Hypertension Reports.
If bananas aren't your thing, berries are another heart-healthy food. "Strawberries and blueberries are packed with vitamin C, which is important for boosting cardiovascular function as well as keeping your immune system healthy," Dr. Higgins says.
2. It’s Loaded With Fiber
Fruits and whole grains are full of fiber, which not only stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps you satiated but may also help reduce blood cholesterol levels and your chance of developing heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to the USDA.
Avocados stand out from other fruits and veggies thanks to their high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber, per a May 2016 study in Nutrients.
Plus, avocados possess fewer phytates and oxalates — compounds known as "anti-nutrients" because they can interfere with the absorption of important minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium — than other sources of fiber.
3. It’s Abundant in Antioxidants
Fruit is a fantastic source of antioxidants, or chemicals that fight free radicals that can cause harm to cells and genetic material. Antioxidants may be especially important for supporting heart health.
Here's why: Free radical damage can make LDL (bad) cholesterol molecules more likely to clog an artery wall, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And when cholesterol builds up in your arteries, it restricts blood flow and may eventually lead to atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke, per the Mayo Clinic.
In particular, "berries are bursting with flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants and polyphenols that boost nitric oxide levels (improving vascular function) and neutralize free radicals and other 'bad guys' in the bloodstream while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing blood pressure," Dr. Higgins says.
The type and quantity of nutrients varies depending on the berry, so your best bet is to eat a mix of them for breakfast, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Avocados also possess powerful antioxidants in the form of vitamin E. Preliminary research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidant-rich fruits (like avos) is related to a reduced instance of chronic oxidative stress, which is associated with health problems including cardiovascular diseases, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
4. It Provides Some Omega 3s
Indeed, a February 2020 study in JAHA found that regular omega-3 intake (either via fatty fish or supplements) was associated with lower triglycerides and is considered cardioprotective in women.
So for an even bigger punch of polyunsaturated fats, top your avocado toast with a fatty fish like salmon, which is swimming with omega-3s. Fish for breakfast might sound strange, but smoked salmon on avocado toast is a total game-changer.
Try These Avocado Toast Recipes
- Cleveland Clinic: “Cutting Carbs? Don’t Say ‘No’ to These Starchy Foods.”
- Current Hypertension Reports: “The importance of potassium in managing hypertension.”
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Berry Good for Your Heart.”
- My Plate: “Grains.”
- American Heart Association: “Carbohydrates.”
- My Food Data: “Top 10 Foods Highest in Omega 3 Fatty Acids.”
- JAHA: "Habitual Fish Consumption, n‐3 Fatty Acids, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Lipoprotein Subfractions in Women"
- BMC Medicine: "Consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber and total and cause-specific mortality: prospective analysis of 367,442 individuals"
- Nutrients: "The Role of Avocados in Complementary and Transitional Feeding"
- Mayo Clinic: “Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Antioxidants.”