These are the best foods for heart health

These are the best foods for heart health

These are the best foods for heart health

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

All from American Heart Association to US Department of Health and Human Services recommends choosing specific foods to maintain a healthy heart. Since heart-healthy foods can reduce other potential cardiovascular problems — like high blood pressure and high cholesterol — they’re worth keeping in mind when planning your weekly meals.

Keep reading to find out what foods to look for and what a heart-healthy diet looks like in general.

These are the best foods for heart health


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What is a heart-healthy diet?

Studies have found two things: foods that are more risky for your heart and foods that make it stronger. Luckily, you won’t get hit by a bunch of curveballs. The best foods for heart health are the ones you probably already consider healthy. Similarly, foods that aren’t exactly heart-healthy are probably already on your radar because they’re not doing your body any favors.

Before we dive in here, let’s say: everything in moderation. Unless you haven’t already you know you have heart problems, you don’t have to cut out any foods or make drastic changes. We’re not saying you can never eat another piece of bacon or open another soda. Instead, being mindful of what a heart-healthy diet looks like can help you include more of these foods in your meals.

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

  • Produce
  • Lean proteins
  • Complex carbohydrates rich in fiber
  • Healthy fats

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

A bright rainbow spectrum of products on the tray.

David Malan/Getty Images

Conversely, if you’re trying to improve cardiovascular health, you want to limit your intake of:

  • Trans fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Processed meat (for example lunch meat, salami and hot dogs)
  • Excess salt
  • Excess sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates (for example, white bread and snacks)
  • red meat
  • Excess alcohol

If many 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 don’t take over every meal and try to add as many heart-healthy foods into your day as possible.

Heart healthy food

A person in a long brown dress browses a grocery store.

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

1. Fruits and vegetables

Do you remember the food pyramid from the old days? It was on the trail of something. Your body benefits from eating quite a bit of produce.

This is because vegetables and fruits pack a lot of nutritional value per bite. Bananas and sweet potatoes bring potassium, a key mineral for heart health. Cruciferous vegetables can help prevent clogging of arteries. Leafy vegetables provide fiber that can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

In short, the more products you pack, the better. And if fresh produce doesn’t fit your budget or your lifestyle, don’t worry. You can get many nutritional benefits from frozen, dried, and canned options. Just make sure they have a low sodium label.

2. Whole grains

Not all carbs are bad. Refined carbohydrates like those in white bread fly through your body, usually doing more harm than good. But complex carbohydrates, like those you’ll find in whole grain productsthey deliver the fiber we’ve already mentioned as a heart health booster.

Plus, they often come 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 include whole grains in the ingredients list. In addition, complex carbohydrates can also be found in beans, potatoes, peas and corn.

Fish tacos on a plate, with corn tortillas and fresh cilantro.

GSPictures/Getty Images

3. Lean and vegetable proteins

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

  • Lens
  • Beans
  • walnuts
  • seeds
  • Tofu
  • Fish, especially fish with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids
  • eggs
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Poultry
  • seeds

Substitute some red meat and dry pork for the above options and you’ll be doing your heart a favor.

4. Healthy fats

You might think that fat causes heart problems, but it’s all about that type fats. Although trans and saturated fats have been linked to cardiovascular problems in numerous studies, your body, including your heart, need healthy fats. You can get them from fish, nuts and seeds, along with avocados and moderate amounts of vegetable oils such as:

  • Olive oil
  • sesame oil
  • Sunflower
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil

As a general rule, if a fat is solid at room temperature, it is probably saturated. If it were a liquid, it most likely belongs to the unsaturated species. Meditate butter (controversial for health) versus olive oil (definitely part of a heart-healthy diet).

Pour the sesame oil into a small bowl.

SUNGMIN/Getty Images

5. Food to check the heart

The American Heart Association has certified certain foods for heart health and gave them Heart-Check stamp, which you can find on some food packages. Once you learn that seal, it can make stocking your cart with heart-healthy food a breeze.

For best results, pair your heart-healthy diet with other heart health boosters As regular exercise, sleep and stress management techniques. It can also be useful to find out your blood type and what does that mean for the risk of specific cardiovascular conditions.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have about your health condition or health goals.

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