Foods That Are Good for Heart Health
Your heart works hard for you. Say thank you by eating these heart-healthy foods.
If eating healthy for your heart wasn’t motivation enough, consider this: A JAMA study in 2018 showed that older people with healthy hearts had a lower risk of dementia and cognitive decline. So, if you eat right for your heart, you’re giving your brain a great advantage as well. Consider putting these heart (and brain) healthy foods in your diet:
Unlike refined grains, whole grains have fiber that can help regulate blood pressure. Whole grains include: whole wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, or high-fiber cereal.
Related: Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
Thanks to the powerful flavor of fresh herbs, you can swap out some of the salt and fat in your favorite recipes with flavorful sprigs like basil, rosemary, oregano, dill, or chives.
Fish in general is a heart healthy food, but salmon, in particular, is a good friend of your heart. It’s rich in omega-3s, which may be linked to decreased risk of heart rhythm disorders. According to Web MD, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
Spinach and kale
Leafy greens basically do it all. Packed with vitamins and nutrients and low in calorie, these superfoods should be a part of your diet. They are high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which help regulate your blood pressure.
One study shows beets can open your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure because of their nitric oxide. This beautiful red food also acts as a great anti-inflammatory.
Walnuts have omega-3s, fiber, and healthy (monounsaturated) fats, and almonds help lower bad cholesterol. Keep in mind, a few nuts can go a long way—one serving is 1.5 ounces or about the amount you could fit in the palm of your hand. Have a handful of almonds as a snack or top a salad with some walnuts.
Related: 7 Veggies for Better Heart Health
Avocados provide healthy fat, can lower your cholesterol, and improve insulin control. Try swapping out blended avocado dressings for creamy salad dressings to lower your saturated fats—like this Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing.
Besides being an affordable food, some legumes (like beans) have folate, antioxidants, and magnesium, which can help with blood pressure. An added bonus: Beans can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels because of their fiber content. If you need more ideas for eating beans besides a bean burrito (not that we’re knocking a classic bean burrito), check out these bean recipes from Bon Appetit.
Don’t forget the no-nos
It’s not just about what you do eat. How much you eat makes a difference, too. Even if you’re eating relatively healthy foods, overeating all the time overloads your body with calories it doesn’t need.
What you don’t eat has a great deal of influence on your health as well. We all know potato chips, fried chicken, and cheesecake are on this list, but there may be some foods you should steer clear of that may surprise you. Avoid:
- Crackers – They tend to be high in fat and processed flour.
- Tomato juice – It’s usually packed with sodium.
- Canned fruit in syrup – Canned fruit in water is okay but remember that most syrups are packed with sugar.
Do your body a favor and treat yourself to these healthy foods. Your heart will thank you for it.