Heart health is a top concern in the U.S., and choosing the right foods can go a long way to supporting a healthy heart.
The following foods are some of your best options to make a real difference in the health of your heart:
- Fish: Fish like salmon are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.[i] So make an effort to eat salmon or any cold-water fish at least once or twice a week. While it’s theoretically possible to get all the fish oil omega-3 you need from fish, in practice, this rarely is the case. A quality supplement can help close this gap.
- Mixed Nuts: Nuts are a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and support heart health when eaten in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of nuts a week. Choose almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
- Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries all supply phytonutrients (including polyphenols and flavonoids) and are low in sugar. Studies have shown that eating mixed berries daily for eight weeks was enough to help maintain cholesterol and blood pressure within normal, healthy limits.[ii]
- Soluble Fiber: Getting enough soluble fiber is one of the keys to keeping cholesterol within a normal healthy limit.[iii] You can get your fiber in oatmeal, beans, flaxseeds, and other healthy grains.
- Colorful foods: Eating a rainbow of foods is a good way to get phytonutrients that are good for your heart, because the molecules that add color to foods are the exact same molecules that benefit our health. Molecules such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and others are all found in colorful foods. Think beets, yellow peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, and others. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and lycopene—all great for your heart.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa contains flavonoids that are great for your heart. Of course, chocolate also contains sugar and fats, so moderation is key. Choose the darkest chocolate you can to get the strongest dose of flavonoids.[iv]
[i] Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease.
[ii] Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutrition reviews. 2010 Mar 1;68(3):168-77.
[iii] Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, Loria CM, Whelton PK. Dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Archives of internal medicine. 2003 Sep 8;163(16):1897-904.
[iv] Djoussé L, Hopkins PN, North KE, Pankow JS, Arnett DK, Ellison RC. Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalent coronary heart disease: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. Clinical nutrition. 2011 Apr 30;30(2):182-7.