5 of the Best Foods for Heart Health

When it comes to heart health, some factors are beyond your control — like, say, your blood type, But other factors, including your diet, are more variable.

Everyone from the American Heart Association to the US Department of Health and Human Services offers advice on making specific food choices to support a healthy heart. Because foods for heart health can reduce other potential cardiovascular issues — such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol — it’s worth keeping that in mind when planning your weekly meals.

Keep reading to learn which foods to look for and what a heart-healthy diet looks like overall.

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What is a heart-healthy diet?

Studies have revealed two things: foods that are risky for your heart and foods that strengthen it. Luckily, you’re not going to get hit with a bunch of curveballs. The best foods for heart health are the ones you probably already know are healthy. Likewise, not-so-healthy foods are probably already on your radar for not doing your body any favors.

Before we dive in here, we say: everything in moderation. unless you already Know you have a heart health problemYou don’t need to cut out any foods or make drastic changes. We’re not saying you can’t have another piece of bacon or another soda. Instead, focusing on what a heart-healthy diet looks like can help you incorporate those foods into your diet.

Now let’s talk about the details. According to the AHA and the Department of Health, a heart-healthy diet is rich in:

  • the product
  • lean proteins
  • Fiber-rich complex carbs
  • healthy fats

A diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins and fats will provide your body with the fiber, vitamins and minerals it needs to support a healthy heart.

A bright rainbow spectrum of the produce on a plate.

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Conversely, if you’re trying to promote heart health, you’ll want to limit your intake of:

  • trans fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Processed meats (for example, luncheon meats, salami, and hot dogs)
  • excessive salt
  • added sugar
  • refined carbohydrates (for example, white bread and snacks)
  • red meat
  • excessive alcohol

If a lot of your favorites are on the less heart-healthy list, don’t panic. You can still include them in your diet (unless your doctor says otherwise). Just make sure these foods aren’t dominating every meal, and try to incorporate as many heart-healthy foods into your day as possible.

heart-healthy foods

Person in a long brown dress browses the aisles of a grocery store.

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If you want to feel good about what your next grocery trip will do for your heart health, you can pick up items in these specific categories.

1. Fruits and Vegetables

Remember the food pyramid from back in the day? It was on something. Eating a little bit of produce benefits your body.

This is because vegetables and fruits have a very high nutritional density per bite. Bananas and sweet potatoes provide potassium, an important mineral for heart health. Cruciferous vegetables may help prevent clogged arteries. Green leafy vegetables provide fiber, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Long story short, the more produce you’re packing, the better. And if fresh produce doesn’t work for your budget or your lifestyle, don’t worry. You can get plenty of nutritional benefits from frozen, dried and canned options. Just make sure they’re marked as low sodium.

2. Whole Grains

Not all carbs are bad. The refined carbs in white bread fly through your body, usually doing you more harm than good. But complex carbohydrates, like the ones you’ll find in whole grain products, provide fiber, which we already mentioned as a heart health booster.

Plus, they’re often packed with vitamins and minerals like iron, selenium, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), folate (vitamin B9) and magnesium. If you’re looking for a heart-healthy diet, choose products that have whole grains in the ingredients list. Additionally, complex carbs can also be found in beans, potatoes, peas, and corn.

Fish Tacos on a plate with corn tortillas and fresh cilantro.

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3. Lean and Plant Protein

While some proteins — like red and processed meats — can be hard on your heart, others top the list of foods for heart health. The key here is to look for plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins, and fish. Experts recommend mixing up your protein sources. So you have a lot of options, stock up:

  • Masur lentils
  • legumes
  • Mad
  • seed
  • Tofu
  • fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • eggs
  • low fat dairy products
  • poultry
  • seed

Swap some of your red meat and cured pork for the options above and you’ll be doing your heart a favor.

4. Healthy Fats

You may think that fat increases heart trouble, but it’s all Type of fat. While trans and saturated fats have been linked to cardiovascular issues in several studies, your body, including your heart, needs healthy fats. You can get these from fish, nuts and seeds, as well as avocados and moderate amounts of vegetable oils such as:

  • Olive Oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower
  • Soya Bean Oil
  • canola oil
  • corn oil
  • safflower oil

As a general rule of thumb, if a fat is solid at room temperature, it is probably saturated. If it will be a liquid, then it most likely belongs to the unsaturated variety. Thinking butter (controversial for health) versus olive oil (certainly part of a heart-healthy diet).

Pouring sesame oil in a small vessel.

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5. Heart Checking Foods

The American Heart Association has certified certain foods for heart health and given them the Heart-Check seal, which you can find on some food packaging. Once you learn that seal, it can make it easier to stock your cart with foods for heart health.

For best results, include in your heart-healthy diet Other Heart Health Boosters to like regular exercise, Sleep and stress management techniques. It may also be helpful to know your blood type and What does it mean For your risk of specific heart conditions.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with respect to any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

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