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Top superfoods for all-star heart health

PHOENIX -- These top five "superfoods" from The American Dietetic Association (ADA) and the "Nutrition Action Health Letter" will not only make you feel good, but will help protect you against heart disease, the top killer of adults in the U.S.

1. Beans. The ADA says beans are truly a superfood because each tiny bean has a powerful combination of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Researchers have also found that diets including beans may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

2. Wild salmon. The omega-3 fats in salmon can help reduce the risk of sudden-death heart attacks. Plus, salmon caught in the wild has less PCB contaminants than salmon raised on a farm.

3. Mushrooms. Stocked full of antioxidants that help protect cells from free radicals, which can lead to cancer and sometimes heart disease, mushrooms are a great source of potassium, copper and certain B-vitamins.

4. Garlic and onions. For the full effects, stay away from onion and garlic powders and stick to the whole vegetable. The ADA reports that research shows these two foods may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, control blood pressure, prevent blood clotting, act as antioxidants to reduce cancer risk and even promote immunity. You may need to eat one garlic clove daily to make a difference.

5. Blueberries. These fun little berries are bursting with antioxidants, more so than many larger berries. In addition to fighting off heart disease and cancer, blueberries can also fight aging. They're loaded with dietary fiber and vitamins A and C.

Surprise superfood: dark chocolate
Eating heart-healthy can be a special treat, too. The ADA reports that recent research shows components of the cocoa bean and dark chocolate could positively impact the cardiovascular system, kidney function, brain health, immune system, diabetes and blood pressure. In fact, dark chocolate may help limit the build-up of plaque in arteries by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing blood pressure.

For more healthy tips and TRICARE-related information, visit TriWest's Healthy Living Portal at www.triwest.com/beneficiary/healthy_living.