10 Essential Foods for Promoting Heart Health
by Caitlin H,
Feb 7, 2022
Our hearts are at the center of our bodies for a reason. They are our literal lifeline, responsible for pumping blood throughout our bodies and bringing oxygen and nutrients to our brain. That’s why it’s critical to eat the kinds of foods that will work to support your cardiovascular health and keep things like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke at bay.
In honor of American Heart Month, give your heart some love! Add a few of these essential foods for promoting heart health to your usual menu plan. Chow down on these on a regular basis and you’ll likely do wonders for making sure your heart keeps pumping strong.
1) Whole Grains
Whole grains have the whole high fiber thing in spades, meaning they reduce the bad cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Plus, some studies have shown that whole grains – things like oats, brown rice, barley, rye, buckwheat, and whole wheat – reduce the risk of stroke, too.
2) Leafy Greens
Vitamin K is known to promote healthy arteries, decreasing stiffness and staving off high blood pressure.
That’s why food items like kale and spinach, with their high levels of vitamins and minerals, are just the thing to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Ah, nature’s butter. With their thick, rich consistency and unique flavor, avocados are chock full of monounsaturated fats, a prime nutrient for lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk.
In addition, avocados have lots of potassium (we’re talking 28% of the daily recommended value), another vital nutrient for your heart.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are mega contributing factors in heart disease. Thankfully, studies show the antioxidants found in berries can help keep a lid on those factors.
That means loading up on raspberries, strawberries and blueberries on your next trip to the supermarket is an excellent way to reduce your risk. Add in their sweet, crisp, satisfying taste, and there’s really no reason to NOT munch down on them every day!
You know how people take those fish oil vitamins all the time? Well, that’s for a good reason! Fatty fish have lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show play a critical role in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol as well as upping arterial functioning.
Incorporating fish like tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon into your diet on a regular basis is an excellent way to help your heart. Don’t like fish? You’re probably good to go opting for the vitamin tablets instead.
When it comes to reducing levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol, resistant starch is your friend. And luckily, beans and legumes have plenty of that!
Try recipes or meals like Diet-to-Go that include beans and legumes to do the right thing for your heart.
7) Walnuts & Almonds
Hankering for something crunchy? Skip the potato chips and opt for a handful of walnuts and almonds instead.
Walnuts have nutrients like copper, magnesium and manganese, which studies show reduce bad cholesterol. Meanwhile, nutrient-dense almonds contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber.
8) Olive Oil
Chances are good that you’ve cooked with olive oil a time or two. Well, keep it up! Studies show that the antioxidants found in olive oil can lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation and even lower your risk of contracting chronic diseases!
Olive oil is a key ingredient leveraged in the Mediterranean Diet, and you can use it in anything from salad dressing to sauces to a whole grain bread dip and more!
Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds – all are full of vitamins and minerals that can help improve your heart health by lowering blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol.
They make for great salad toppings, can act as an ingredient swap in some recipes or can stand as a crunchy snack on their own.
10) Dark Chocolate
Sweet lovers, this one’s for you! Dark chocolate has antioxidants like flavonoids that studies have shown lower the risk of coronary heart disease and developing calcified plaque in the arteries.
One thing to note, while consuming a moderate amount of chocolate can be beneficial for your heart health, it’s important that you don’t overdo it. Chocolate can also be high in calories and sugar, which can work against the healthy habits you’ve built.
Ultimately, the correlation between heart health and what you eat continues to grow the more scientists examine it. Incorporating the tasty foods on this list into your diet on a regular basis – whether on your own or with a healthy meal delivery service like Diet-to-Go – can go a long way towards keeping your heart beating healthy and strong!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.