7 Heart-Healthy Foods
Following a healthy diet is your first step toward taking care of your heart and feeling your best. These are some of the best nutrient-rich foods you can eat to promote a healthy heart.
Just a handful of nuts is all you need for a healthy dose of cholesterol-lowering fats. A serving of walnuts can provide plenty of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure.1 Walnuts are also high in magnesium and fiber, two essential ingredients in maintaining heart health.2,3 Almonds are another nut high in fiber, as well as being rich in monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol.4 Nuts are perfect for snacking on and a heart-healthy alternative to chips.
To lower LDL cholesterol and fight plaque, eat one avocado a day is the message from the Journal of the American Heart Association.5 High in fiber and oleic acid (a cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat), avocado can also help raise HDL levels of cholesterol (good cholesterol) and lower triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.6 Avocado is rich in 20 different micronutrients and is particularly high in Vitamin K, necessary for the health of your arteries.7 An avocado makes a healthy substitute for mayonnaise, dips, and other fat-laden spreads.
Oily fish high in heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat8 is a lean protein choice that’s low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid your body needs to source from foods like salmon, herring, and rainbow trout. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) play an active role in cardioprotection and healthy blood pressure.9 Fish is a healthy substitute for high fat meats and can be eaten 2-4 times a week.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a rich source of oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat with cardioprotective properties. Recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a healthy substitute for saturated fats like butter,10 EVOO is considered a vasodilatory nutrient that can help maintain blood pressure within a healthy range.11 As the main ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, EVOO has many heart-health benefits.12
Whole grain oatmeal is a recommended source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Oat fiber in particular has a profound effect on lowering cholesterol and can greatly benefit the health of your heart. A high source of energy, oatmeal contains many active compounds with heart protective properties like monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, and antioxidants.13
Leafy greens are packed full of goodness, and spinach is no exception. High in fiber, spinach is a good source of magnesium – an important electrolyte that benefits the muscle of your heart and its rhythmic heartbeat.14 Like a lot of leafy greens, spinach contains an abundance of Vitamin K, which is necessary for maintaining the health of your arteries.15
Berries such as cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries have been shown to provide immense health benefits for your heart and are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. The rich colors of these berries hold therapeutic properties, bursting with antioxidants and other active compounds that have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.16 Their high fiber content make berries especially good at lowering cholesterol.
- Blog Contributor