Have you heard the saying, “we are what we eat“? Well, science actually proves this saying to be true. The food we eat has the power to nourish our bodies or the power to weaken it, inviting a host of health problems and diseases. With heart disease being the number one cause of death globally, more and more people are making changes to their diets to live a long, healthy life.
If you’re looking to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, lower your cholesterol, or just wanting to improve your overall diet, then we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of the 15 most heart healthy foods that everyone should incorporate into their diet.
Are you ready to make some positive changes to your diet? Reading this list is a good place to start!
The health benefits of spinach and other leafy greens are tremendous. What’s so special about leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens? Their superpower is vitamin K. Vitamin K helps prevent calcium buildup in the arteries, thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
Another superpower of leafy greens is something called “dietary nitrates“. These dietary nitrates found in leafy greens like spinach have been proven to lower blood pressure.
Need ideas for working spinach into your diet? Try blending a few leaves of spinach into your fruit smoothie or throwing a handful of spinach into your pasta dish.
Good news for lovers of all things berry: They are JAM-packed with all kinds of nutritional benefits – no pun intended!
Berries are an important source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are vital in the fight against free radicals wreaking havoc in body. Without the help of antioxidants, free radicals damage our cells, which can lead to certain cancers and diseases. That’s why a diet rich in antioxidants prevents diseases and helps keep our hearts healthy.
Berries are also scientifically proven to reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. All the more reason to indulge this summer in all the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries your heart desires – and your heart will thank you for it!
When it comes to walnuts, there’s a lot to be nuts about. Packed in a single walnut are antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and fiber that benefit not only the health of our hearts, but of our whole bodies. Who knew such power could be hiding in these tasty nuts?
More than any other nut, walnuts have the highest levels of antioxidants and omega-3s. That means eating walnuts has the power to lower bad cholesterol levels, prevent calcium buildup in the arteries, and lower the risk of heart disease.
If you’re wondering how to incorporate more walnuts into your diet, try adding some coarsely chopped walnuts to your yogurt with berries, or sprinkling some over a salad.
While technically a fruit, avocados are very different than all other fruit. They aren’t a fruit that’s sweet or rich in carbohydrates, rather, they are composed mostly of healthy fat. These healthy monounsaturated fats found in avocados are not the type to make you gain weight – they actually support the reduction of bad cholesterol levels. That’s a major win in keeping your heart healthy and strong!
Another superpower of avocados is that they contain plenty of potassium. Potassium has been proven to decrease blood pressure, which significantly lowers the risk of having a stroke.
The ways to incorporate avocados into your diet are endless. Made into guacamole, diced into a salad, or spread on toast are just a few ways to enjoy the taste and benefits of this superfood.
Are you a fan of fish? It’s a fact that salmon and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease. If your goal is a healthier heart, then you need to get salmon, sardines, and tuna on your plate ASAP.
What’s so great about omega-3s from fish? In short, it lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol when eaten on a regular basis. Totally worth it.
Salmon is widely available in supermarkets and can be baked, grilled, smoked, pan-fried, or even eaten raw in the case of sushi (just be sure to select “sushi-grade” salmon).
It turns out that garlic not only keeps vampires away, it also wards off heart disease. For hundreds of years, people have been using garlic medicinally to heal various illnesses. In more recent history, scientific studies have confirmed its power to heal.
Scientists are continually astounded by this powerful little plant and all the nutritional benefits associated with it. When it comes to the heart, studies prove that ingesting garlic daily reduces blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. One study showed that high doses of garlic have the same effect as prescription drugs to reduce blood pressure!
Adding more garlic to your diet is an easy, delicious way to a healthier heart.
7. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers, rejoice. Science proves that a little bit of chocolate each day has a positive impact on the health of your heart. Who knew something so delectable to our tastebuds could also be so beneficial for our bodies.
What is it about chocolate that keeps our hearts healthy? For one, raw cocoa is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids which protect our bodies from disease, including cardiovascular disease. In addition, studies have proven dark chocolate to lower blood pressure and improve circulation, even lowering the risk of stroke.
The only catch? It’s got to be as close to raw cocoa as possible, 70% cocoa or higher. That means milk chocolate and white chocolate won’t give you the above listed benefits.
8. Red Wine
This list keeps getting better and better. Ending the day with a glass of red wine is not only relaxing, it’s also doing your heart a whole lot of favors. Let’s break it down and explain why.
Like berries and dark chocolate, red wine is another superfood with high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants are shown to enhance cholesterol levels and prevent disease.
The benefits don’t end there. In fact, alcohol of any kind enjoyed in light moderation has been linked with the reduction of blood clots, something important in preventing heart attacks. On the other hand? Too much alcohol has devastating effects on the body. So keep it to a glass or two of wine at a time.
9. Olive Oil
Olive oil has been long known to benefit the heart. A beloved condiment in the Mediterranean, olive oil can be drizzled on almost anything, including vegetables, salad, bread, and pasta – everything is made a little more indulgent with a splash of olive oil.
Produced by crushing olives to obtain their natural oil, olive oil is enjoyed all over the world for both its taste and nutrition. Olive oil is high in good-for-you monounsaturated fatty acids and rich in antioxidants, which relieve inflammation and lower both blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Studies have proved a significantly lower risk of heart disease for those consuming olive oil on a regular basis. All the more reason to enjoy it.
Red, juicy tomatoes are a staple in most countries. But did you know how important they are when it comes to the heart?
What makes tomatoes so heart healthy? In a word, lycopene. Lycopene is a nutrient found in plants that’s also rich in antioxidants. They also give tomatoes their remarkable red color. Lycopene lowers bad cholesterol levels and has been scientifically proven to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Whether you’re dicing tomatoes into a salsa, slicing them onto a sandwich, or blending them into a sauce, you can feel good about enjoying tomatoes as part of your diet.
We all know oranges are famous for Vitamin C, but did you know that this sweet, juicy fruit can also save you from a heart attack? Pass the OJ, please!
What makes oranges so good for the heart? For starters, antioxidants. A single orange contains over 60 different antioxidants! That alone reduces the risk of heart disease. Another benefit of oranges is that they contain potassium, which reduces blood pressure and promotes the optimal functioning of the heart. Finally, thanks to a fiber called pectin that’s found in the pulp of the orange, oranges lower LDL cholesterol.
Start your morning off by eating an orange alongside a healthy breakfast. If you prefer juice, make sure you choose orange juice with pulp to get all the benefits of pectin.
12. Beans and Lentils
Beans, lentils, and other legumes are a staple in most countries around the world. That’s a good thing because they keep our hearts functioning at an optimal level.
A large international study conducted in recent years associated legumes with an 82 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. So what makes beans and lentils so powerful in fighting heart disease? Fiber, magnesium, folate, and potassium all work together to keep blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels down.
Some ideas on how to incorporate legumes into your diet include a comforting bowl of chili or lentil soup, Mexican beans and rice, or a hummus dip for vegetables.
If you’re new to eggplants you might be a bit hesitant about adding this large purple vegetable to your diet. But we’re here to tell you – they are delicious, healthy, and should absolutely make it to your family’s dinner rotation on occasion. They can be baked or grilled and served in a hundred different ways, from eggplant parmigiana to ratatouille.
Aside from being delicious, they pack a punch when it comes to heart health. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in eggplants lower cholesterol, improve circulation, and prevent blood clotting which lower the risk of a heart attack.
Grapefruit is a superfood loved by many for its ability to help people lose weight and boost our immune systems. It’s a low calorie fruit, but rich in vitamins and minerals. In addition to all its health benefits, grapefruits have been linked with keeping our hearts healthy. Let’s dive into the reasons why.
The nutrients found in grapefruits such as vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and lycopene, have been proven to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Incorporating grapefruits significantly reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and heart disease.
If you can’t stomach a whole grapefruit in the morning, grapefruit juice might be another great option to enjoy its benefits.
Last but not least on our list of heart healthy foods is a common breakfast staple: oatmeal. Warm, comforting, and delicious, oatmeal is a hearty breakfast that also benefits our health and wellbeing.
What nutritional benefits are in a bowl of oatmeal? When it comes to heart health, an important nutrient hiding in oats is fiber. Fiber lowers LDL cholesterol, and thus, lowers the risk of heart disease. Other important nutrients in oatmeal include omega-3s, potassium, and folate.
The great thing about a bowl of oatmeal is that you can mix in lots of heart healthy toppings, such as berries, walnuts, and dried fruit.