10 foods to keep your heart healthy

Eat well, keep healthy


Coronary artery disease, or heart disease, is responsible for over 805,000 heart attacks each year in the US.  It is also responsible for around 630,000 deaths per year.  Heart disease is often referred to as the silent killer as you may not have any warning before a ctastrophic event.  Eating heart-healthy food can reduce your risk of suffering from heart disease and having a heart attack.

The major risk factors associated with heart disease is age, sex and family history. Individuals over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.  Males have a higher risk of developing heart disease, too.  If heart disease runs in the family, you’re at a higher risk as well.  47% of Americans have at least one of these 3 risk factors.

Let’s start with the most important basic advice we can give you: moderation is always key. Watching what you eat is just as important as controlling how much you eat.  Always make sure you are regulating your portion size.  A simple way to regulate portion size is by using a smaller plate or bowl.  Switch from eating large portions of high-calorie and high-sodium foods, which refers to most fast food, to a low-calorie and nutrient-rich diet focused on fresh fruits and vegetables.  This is the first and most important step to a heart-healthy diet.  Keeping a food diary is also useful to help you keep track of what you eat and how much.  

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Lovely leafy greens

Greens such as kale and broccoli are very rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also a good source of Vitamin K, which helps prevent build up of plaque in your arteries.  Vegetables contain dietary nitrates which have been linked to a reduction in blood pressure and atherosclerosis.  A study conducted with 29,869 women found a link between consumption of leafy greens and reduction in the risk of coronary artery disease. 

It is easy to incorporate leafy greens into your diet.  Buy fresh vegetables and keep them washed and cut in your fridge to allow for easy snacking.  If you don't lke eating greens alone, make a salad, or use a helathy dip such as hummus or olive oil.

Whole-grain foods

Move away from white rice and white bread and try something healthier.  Some common examples of whole-grains are brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa.  Whole-grains are higher in fibre which reduces cholesterol and therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease.  Studies have shown that eating 3 or more servings of whole-grain daily can lower the risk of heart disease by 22%, and can also lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke.

When purchasing wholegrain products make sure to read the label. Words like “multigrain” and “wheat flour” doesn’t mean the product is actually whole-grain. 


Examples include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.  Berries are full of essential nutrients that play an integral role in maintaining a healthy heart.  They are high in antioxidants which have a protective effect against stress and inflammation, factors known to contribute to the development of heart disease.  Additionally, berries are  rich in fiber, folate, iron , calcium, vitamin A and C, and low in fat and calories. Daily consumption of berries helps control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and may also help with weight loss.  


Fatty Fish and Oil

Salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  Fatty acids that have been associated with beneficial cardiovascular effects.  Fish is also high in protein and low in saturated fat.  Eating certain fish reduces the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat and can dleay or prevent build of of plaques in your arteries.  The American Heart Association suggests that we should eat 3.5 ounces of fish, at least 2 times a week. If fish is not a regular part of your diet, try fish oil supplements, which are linked to a reduction in triglycerides and a modest decrease in blood pressure.



Examples of nuts include, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts. All these nuts have a high amount of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Walnuts contain a high amount of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients such as magnesium, copper and manganese.  Just adding a few portions of walnuts into your diet can help prevent heart disease. 



Beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils - also referred to as pulses or legumes - are rich in fiber, protein and antioxidants.  The starch contained in beans improves cardiovascular health by lowering levels of bad cholesterol.  


Dark Chocolate

At last, something we will willingly.  Believe it or not dark chocolate is a heart healthy food. It protects against atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty plaques inside arteries) which then reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Do not confused dark chocolate with typical milk chocolate, however.  Good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 70% or more is a heart healthy food.  However, dark chocolate can still have a high sugar and calorie content, so moderation is key.



Chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds are the plant alternative to fish. They are a good source of fatty acids along with nutrients and fiber. Studies have shown that incorporating seeds into your daily diet can reduce inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Hemp seeds are high in arginine, an amino acid known to fight general inflammation.


Green Tea

Green tea has a variety of health benefits from lowering blood sugar levels to helping with weight loss.  It is swimming with antioxidants which prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease.  Taking green tea supplements or drinking matcha tea has similar health benefits to drinking green tea.  It has not been determined how much green tea a day is beneficial, however. 



Tomatoes are high in fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and folate which can all benefit heart health.  Potassium especially, is essential for the heart, muscles and bones, and can reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.  Tomatoes are also full of lycopene, a pigment with powerful antioxidative properties that can neutralize the effect of free radicals and help prevent inflmmation and heart disease.

Final Message

Slowly try and introduce more of these heart healthy foods into your diet.  It can be hard at first, but even a small change can have a significant effect in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.  A small change is better than no change.



  1. 15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods", in Healthline, , 2019, 
  2. 16 top foods for a healthy heart", in Medical News Today, , 2019,
  3. 12 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet", in Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, , 2019,

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