12 Heart-Healthy Foods You Should Eat

It's February, and you know what that means: It's Heart Health Month. Being at the forefront of all things food, we'd be amiss not to inform you of the ways that your heart can potentially benefit via eating. Thus, we've scoured our own database of published articles and links in order to compile a list of the foods we've deemed to be heart-healthy in order to help you stay informed during this heart-focused month.

Click here to see our 10 Heart-Healthy Foods slideshow.

As you'll see, the list is full of foods that are generally labeled as "healthy" by many. It makes sense: The foods below help the heart by aiding in the regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. If you want to keep your heart pumping healthily, keep reading to see the foods we recommend to keep your heart healthy.

"Avocados are probably best known for their effect on heart health," says The Daily Meal special contributor Elyse Cromer. "This is mostly due to a monounsaturated fatty acid, known as oleic acid, which has been shown to help lower the risk of heart disease. The vitamin B6 and the high amounts of folate in avocados help regulate homocysteine levels, which if high, can be a sign of poor heart health."

Lauren Gordon, another special contributor for The Daily Meal, says, "If you add a half cup of beans to your diet and slowly graduate to a daily cup, you can reduce your LDL cholesterol, increase your HDL cholesterol, and can even help... [regulate] blood sugar levels."

Broccoli contains many heart-healthy nutrients, including, but not limited to, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

Emily Jacobs, also one of The Daily Meal's contributors, says that cranberries, "contain high levels of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C as well as anthocyanin, a flavonoid that has been shown to promote circulation and prevent cardiovascular disease."

Dark Chocolate
"The antioxidants in dark chocolate help prevent heart disease by improving blood flow and protecting against hardening of the arteries," says The Daily Meal special contributor Julie Ruggirello. "Choose dark chocolate with high cocoa content for maximum antioxidants."

Eat your yolks! Eggs are full of heart-healthy omega-3s.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Daily Meal special contributor Anne Dolce says, "A [fairly] recent study shows that a diet rich in olive oil helps keep the heart healthy and functioning well, especially with the elderly, because of its large supply of healthy monounsaturated fats."

A handful of nuts can help you feel full and also keep your heart functioning properly.

There are so many ways to prepare oats. Plus, the World's Healthiest Foods says, "Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels."

Red Wine
Haven't you heard? Drinking a glass of red wine can produce the same heart function as an hour at the gym.

"The omega-3 fatty acids found in wild salmon, namely DHA and EPA, are readily absorbed by the body and used to lower triglycerides, raise HDL, help repair muscle damage, and strengthen the heart," says Emily Jacobs. "Skip farmed salmon as it tends to be contaminated with chemicals, like mercury, which can impair brain function."

Sweet Potatoes
Plant-based foods like sweet potatoes can inspire increased energy levels and, thus, healthier lifestyles in people. Try one of our sweet potato recipes to boost your next heart-healthy activity.

The accompanying slideshow is provided by special contributor Emily Jacobs.

Click here for 10 Heart-Healthy Foods.