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Heart Healthy Foods

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Heart Healthy Foods

6 min read


Consuming heart-healthy foods helps prevent the occurrence of various heart-related disorders. Read the article below to learn about them in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At November 13, 2018
Reviewed AtApril 19, 2024

What Are Heart-Healthy Foods?

In the last few decades, heart diseases like atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and stroke have increased in their count exponentially all around the globe. As per the American Public Health Association, a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a poor diet is responsible for the majority of heart diseases worldwide. Stressed and busy schedules tend people to be inclined toward junk food and processed food, which are otherwise hazardous for their health, particularly heart health.

Scientific studies have built a stronger link between the diet taken and the occurrence of heart diseases. Incorporating healthy foods and regular workout sessions into the routine helps a long way in preventing heart disease. There is a wide range of food items that are specifically good for the heart. These foods are called heart-healthy foods. Having foods in their natural or organic form is the healthiest way to consume them. This is known as a ‘whole-food diet.’ Such a diet includes heart-healthy foods like nuts, whole grains, olive oil, vegetables, and fruits. Besides these, occasionally, a glass of red wine or a piece of dark chocolate can also be consumed to keep the heart healthy.

What Can Be Done for Heart-Healthy Eating?

When the health of the heart is concerned, the foods that are consumed hold great importance. The below-mentioned tips can be followed for heart-healthy eating:

  • Eating less saturated fat and avoiding trans fat.

  • Cutting back on fat-containing meats and high-fat dairy products.

  • Limiting processed foods like pizza, burgers, creamy sauces, etc.

  • Reducing the amount of sodium (salt) in the diet.

  • Including liquid non-tropical vegetable oils like olive oil, soybean oil, etc.

  • Minimizing intake of added sugars into the diet.

  • Restricting or avoiding alcohol intake.

  • Getting more fiber and including vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains in the diet.

    • Having fruits and vegetables as fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

    • Including fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots.

    • Having leafy green vegetables as salads, like Romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale.

    • Canned vegetables that are low in sodium content should be chosen.

    • Frozen vegetables, without additives like butter or sauces, should be bought.

    • Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, guavas, etc. should be consumed.

    • Canned, frozen, or dried fruits without added sugars are healthy.

    • The healthiest way is to have seasonal fruits and vegetables.

  • Choosing fat-free or low-fat foods that include:

    • Fat-free or low-fat milk, up to one percent.

    • Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt.

    • Fat-free or low-fat cheese, cottage cheese.

    • Soy milk with additives like calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

  • Having products that contain 100 percent whole grain, like:

    • Whole-grain bread, bagels, tortillas, etc.

    • Whole-grain breakfast cereals like oatmeal or shredded wheat.

    • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, or oats.

    • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta, etc.

    • Protein-rich foods should be majorly eaten, such as:

  1. Marine foods like fish, shellfish, etc.

  2. Lean meats (at least 93 percent lean) such as pork shoulder, lean ground beef, etc.

  3. Beans, peas, and lentils like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.

  4. Eggs.

  5. Unsalted butter, like almond or peanut butter; nuts and seeds, too.

  6. Tofu.

  • Replacing saturated fat with healthier unsaturated fats like seafood, nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils. Include these healthy swaps:

    • Vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower) should be used instead of butter or refined oil for cooking.

    • Low-fat mayonnaise instead of full-fat mayonnaise.

    • Oil-based salad dressings like balsamic vinaigrette or Italian instead of creamy dressings like ranch.

    • Vegetable oils are usually healthy choices, yet avoid coconut and palm oils, which are high in saturated fat. Margarine and other soft spreads have less saturated fat than butter.

What Do Heart-Healthy Foods Include?

Certain food items are distinctly beneficial for the health of the heart. They are as follows:

  • Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and trout.

  • Nuts such as almonds or walnuts in small quantities satisfy hunger and help the heart.

  • Berries, as they contain heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. These include blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

  • Seeds, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc., contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and phytoestrogens and enhance heart health.

  • Oats contain abundant nutrients besides protein and fiber and are regarded as a ‘nutrient powerhouse.’

  • Legumes include dried beans and lentils like garbanzo, pinto, kidney, or black beans. These are high in fiber, vitamin B complex, minerals, etc.

  • Red wine improves good (HDL) cholesterol levels in the body. Up to two glasses of four ounces for men and one for women per day can be consumed.

  • Soy, edamame beans, or marinated tofu can be eaten for heart-healthy meals.

  • Veggies of different colors like red, yellow, and orange, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, etc., are full of carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins that boost heart health.

  • Green veggies, particularly spinach and kale, are a pack of healthy nutrients. Broccoli and asparagus comprise vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber.

  • Fruits, like oranges and papaya, are filled with beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

  • Dark chocolate is especially good for the heart. The higher the quantity of cocoa, the healthier it is. The fiber and protein amounts increase with the increase in cocoa percentage, and the sugar content decreases.

  • Green tea consumption boosts heart health as it brims with antioxidants like polyphenols and catechins. It also prevents damage to the cells and decreases cell inflammation.

What Are the Best Diets for Heart Conditions?

There are several advantages for the heart when one includes foods high in heart-healthy fats in the diet. For general health, include these items in a balanced diet along with other heart-healthy practices like frequent exercise and stress reduction. Different diets have different effects on heart health. The DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet stand out as the best diets for heart health among all.

DASH Dietary Plan:

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is another name for the DASH diet. Research has linked the DASH diet to improved heart health, including lowered blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart failure. Eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, selecting lean meats, low-fat dairy, legumes, nuts, and vegetable oils, and avoiding sweets and foods rich in saturated fats are the cornerstones of the DASH diet.

Mediterranean Diet

A plant-based diet inspired by the nations that border the Mediterranean Sea is known as a Mediterranean-style diet. It is a well-liked diet that offers several health advantages, such as a decreased chance of heart disease.

A Mediterranean-style diet consists of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, and certain vegetable oils. It also places an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes. The diet restricts salt, sugar-filled drinks, highly processed meals, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and processed or fatty meats.

What Are the Foods to Limit?

Limit the Intake of Sodium:

  • Less than 2,300 milligrams of salt should be consumed daily by adults and children older than 14. Depending on their sex and age, children under the age of 14 could need to consume significantly less salt daily. Individuals might need to restrict salt intake even more if they have elevated blood pressure.

  • To buy and prepare meals that are lower in salt, consider the following purchasing and cooking advice:

    • Choose foods that contain a lesser amount of sodium for identical serving sizes by reading the labels on items.

    • Select goods with no added salt, reduced sodium, or low sodium.

    • Use spices and herbs to flavor meals instead of salt.

Cut back on Saturated Fats:

  • Animal sources of saturated or bad fats include cheese, butter, and fatty meats. Less than 10 percent of daily calories should come from them. Nuts and vegetable oils include unsaturated fats, generally referred to as good fats.

  • Choose foods with more unsaturated fats and less saturated fats by reading food labels.

Reduce the Amount of Added Sugars:

  • The daily intake of calories from added sugars should be kept to a minimum.

  • Fruit is one food that naturally contains sugars.

  • Added sugars are added to food and beverages to make them sweeter; they do not exist in nature. These consist of raw sugar, sucrose, fructose, glucose, brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, and high-fructose corn syrup.

Limit the Alcohol Intake:

  • Discuss one’s alcohol intake with the healthcare physician. They might advise them to cut back on their alcohol consumption or give it up entirely. Beverage can:

  • Increase the amount of calories one consumes each day to potentially gain weight.

  • Increase the amount of triglycerides and fats in the bloodstream, as well as blood pressure.

  • Aggravates or contributes to heart failure in certain individuals.

  • Increase the chance of developing additional illnesses like cancer.


Heart-healthy foods are a part of a healthy diet that particularly have effects on the functioning of the heart. Such foods are easily available all around us and can be simply swapped with unhealthy food options. It is essential to incorporate them into the diet as early as possible after gathering the right information about them. As the heart is one of the vital organs of the body, a heart-healthy diet should be followed strictly to minimize the chances of developing heart disease.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Foods That Are Healthy for the Heart?

The heart-healthy foods include:
- Leafy green vegetables.
- Whole grains.
- Berries.
- Avocados.
- Fatty fish and fish oil.
- Dark chocolate.
- Beans.
- Walnuts.
- Almonds.
- Seeds.
- Garlic.
- Olive oil.


Which Fruit Is Heart-Healthy?

Berries are loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins which play an important role in oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby contributing to the management of heart disease. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries play a significant role in a healthy heart.


Are Eggs Good for the Heart?

An egg a day does not increase the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases. Some studies show that even having an egg on this level reduces the risk of stroke and other eye abnormalities called macular degeneration, which further causes blindness.


What Are the Habits That Make the Heart Stronger?

- Regular exercising.
- Quit smoking.
- Losing weight.
- Eating healthy foods that are good for the heart.
- Avoid overeating.
- Avoid stress.


Which Vegetable Is Heart-Healthy?

Vegetables that are good for the heart include:
- Carrots.
- Tomatoes.
- Red peppers.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Broccoli.
- Spinach.
- Beans.
- Squash.
- Asparagus.


How to Keep The Heart Clean?

- Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to the diet.
- Taking good fats on a regular basis.
- Avoid taking fatty meats and dairy products.
- Increased consumption of fibers.
- Avoid processed foods


What Are the Foods to Be Avoided for Heart Patients?

Although there is no cure for this illness, you can manage it and enhance your quality of life. One strategy for management of heart diseases includes proper nutrition. This includes consuming some foods and avoiding others.
The foods that are bad for your heart include:
- Sugar, salt, and fat.
- Soda.
- Baked foods.
- Processed meat.
- White rice, pasta, and bread.
- Alcohol.


Does Apple Have Any Heart-Healthy Benefits?

Taking one medium side apple per day can help to decrease cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and inflammation. The apple peel is rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, polyphenols and other nutrients that help to enhance heart, brain and digestive health.


Does Oatmeal Have Any Heart-Healthy Benefits?

Oats are considered a powerhouse of nutrients that help keep the heart healthy. Oats are rich in soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which helps to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes.


Do Potatoes Have Any Heart-Healthy Benefits?

Potatoes are loaded with potassium and fibers, which help to lower blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular health, and decrease the level of bad cholesterol. Boiled potatoes, baked potatoes, and smashed potatoes are beneficial when taken in a limited amount.
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina



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