When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, we hear a lot about what not to eat. But there are plenty of yummy foods that can be part of a heart-healthy diet!
While it may seem obvious, many of us often forget that the foods we eat have the power to influence and affect nearly every aspect of heart health – for better or worse. In addition to boosting overall heart health, your diet can directly impact blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of food options when it comes to eating for your heart, most of which are also beneficial for your overall health and well-being. Key nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, monounsaturated fats, potassium and antioxidants support the entire body.
So, what should you be eating as part of a heart-healthy diet? Read on as our heart health experts share the details!
Good Pieces of a Heart-Healthy Diet
You probably know that foods filled with saturated fat, added sugar and salt aren’t the best for your heart. And while some of these foods are okay in moderation, it’s important to focus on eating fresh, unprocessed foods and getting lots of variety.
In addition to leafy greens, avocados and seeds, here are tasty and heart-healthy foods to add to your plate:
- Fish. Often called fatty fish, salmon and tuna are packed with heart-loving omega-3 fatty acids, which help to supper lower blood pressure and total cholesterol. Aim for two 4-ounce servings a week, choosing low-mercury options.
- Oats. Whether you eat them the traditional, warm way or serve them up in an overnight oatmeal creation, oats are packed with fiber, which can lower cholesterol and protect your heart. Plus, you can load either of these dishes with tasty fresh fruit.
- Berries. What’s your favorite berry? They’re all packed with heart-healthy components, including phytonutrients and fiber. Here’s a fun fact: The “anthocyanins” that give berries their red or blue color are antioxidants that help promote heart health!
- Dark chocolate. Yes, you can have your heart-healthy diet and still eat chocolate. Choose a small portion of chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa that’s palatable to you—as the percentage goes up, fiber and protein in the chocolate increase and sugar decreases.
- Potatoes. We’re not encouraging you to run out and grab fries, but potatoes often get a bad reputation for being unhealthy, when the opposite is true. Potatoes contain a good amount of potassium and fiber, which can lower your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.
- Legumes. Love a bowl of chili or black bean soup on a chilly day? You’re doing your heart good! Beans and lentils contain all sorts of heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber and B-vitamins.
- Tomatoes. Like potatoes, tomatoes contain potassium. But they also contain another component of a heart-healthy diet—lycopene, an antioxidant that has been associated with lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and a lower heart attack risk.
- Nuts. We encourage you to go nuts for nuts! In moderation, though. Nuts contain fiber and vitamin E, and some of them, such as walnuts, also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Since they contain a good amount of fat, watch your portion size.
- Olive oil. Love to dip a piece of bread in olive oil and herbs? Do it! Extra-virgin olive oil, which contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, can help to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Pair it with whole-grain bread or substitute it in place of butter when cooking.
- Coffee. For many, starting off the day with a cup of coffee is a must, which is a plus for your heart. Research found that having at least two cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 30 percent. If coffee isn’t your thing, try a cup of green tea instead. Not only can tea help lower LDL cholesterol, it’s also filled with antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and protect
Craving Lasting Heart Health
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