Choose These Foods for a Healthier Heart
These foods may lower your risk for heart disease and boost heart health.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish can help lower your risk for heart disease. When choosing foods to boost heart health, consider these nutrition tips:
- Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Commonly found in fish such as wild salmon and tuna, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, which is a precursor to heart disease. If you don't enjoy fish or are a vegetarian, try adding flaxseeds or walnuts to your diet.
- Stock up on "super foods." Foods such as oats, broccoli, blueberries and wild salmon have all been shown to have health benefits.
- Fill your plate with produce. Fruits and vegetables contain an assortment of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, helping to keep your heart healthy. Fill at least half of your plate with produce at each meal.
- Go nuts. Nuts provide protein, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and other important vitamins and minerals, and they may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Walnuts and almonds are especially heart-healthy. Limit portions to one handful per day because nuts are calorie-dense.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth. Research shows dark chocolate contains antioxidants that may help prevent cholesterol from sticking to artery walls, reducing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Chocolate also contains beneficial flavonoids. Be sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for maximum health benefits and stick with a 1-ounce portion.
- Pick the right fat. While unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are beneficial when consumed in moderation, saturated and trans fats are not. Olive oil, nuts and avocados are examples of good fats. Stay away from trans fats found in vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers, cookies and foods made with partially hydrogenated oils.
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Date Last Reviewed: May 3, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD