5 foods to eat for your heart health

These tasty foods are filled with helpful nutrients for your heart.

Woman unpacking heart-healthy groceries

Updated on May 13, 2024.

Your diet affects your heart in many different ways. When you eat certain foods, it can help improve your heart health and lower your risk of heart disease.

Interested? Try these delicious choices.

Colorful produce
Fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids. They are chemicals found in plants. They help to lower inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to sickness or injury. But too much can lead to heart disease.

Want more flavonoids? Eat fresh, colorful foods like:

  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Red grapes
  • Cranberries
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

Aim for 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit a day.

Whole-grain products
Whole grain foods are full of fiber, which helps protect your heart. They also have magnesium. It’s a mineral that helps keep your cholesterol in a healthy range. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in your blood. Too much can harm blood flow.

Popular whole-grain foods include:

  • Whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Plain popcorn

Try for six or more daily servings of whole grains.

Healthy fats
Plant-based fats can help you manage your cholesterol. They are found in foods like:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Canola and olive oil

Choose them instead of saturated fats. They are fats that are solid in room temperature. Eating too many can cause heart disease. They are found in things like butter, cheese, and fried foods.

For example, use canola oil instead of butter when you cook vegetables.

Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are another kind of healthy fat. Eating them can lower your risk of:

  • Heart attack, which happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked
  • Stroke, which happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked
  • A heartbeat that is uneven, too fast, or too slow
  • Inflammation
  • High triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood
  • Hardening of blood vessels

Many kinds of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include:

  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Cod
  • Salmon

If possible, try to eat two portions of these fish each week.

Nuts and nut butters
Many nuts contain heart-healthy fats. They are also a good source of protein. Try:

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Nuts are high in calories, so eat just one small handful each day.

Healthy cutbacks
Try to reduce foods that age your heart. Cut back on unhealthy saturated fats, salt, and sugar. To do this, limit your:

  • Red meat
  • Processed meats, like bacon and deli ham
  • Packaged snacks, like chips and candy
  • Baked goods
  • Alcohol
  • Tropical oils, like palm and coconut oil

Instead, try:

  • Apple wedges with peanut butter
  • Crusty whole-grain breads
  • Fresh citrus
  • Carrot and celery sticks

These foods can help you feel full and improve your heart health.

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