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Food is the foundation of a healthy heart, so what we eat matters. A well-rounded diet adaptation is essential to reduce the risk of heart disease. Read about a heart-healthy diet, which foods are good for the heart, and what you should avoid eating!
Did you know that heart-related diseases are about one-third of all deaths worldwide? In the US, the growing number of deaths due to heart attacks makes heart- disease the number one killer. More precisely, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, and over 697,000 people die due to heart disease annually, making it 1 in every five deaths.
Fortunately, incorporating heart-healthy foods into your diet can help you reduce the risk of heart disease. Certain foods are beneficial and prevent risk elements, such as blood pressure, harmful cholesterol levels and inflammation, and triglycerides, from triggering heart disease. In addition to the food that’s good for the heart, you should also limit certain foods with added sugars and saturated fats to keep your heart healthy.
However, even though you know that certain foods are not suitable for your health, it takes work to change your eating habits suddenly. So, whether you’ve years of an unhealthy diet or want to fine-tune your diet, below is the list of heart-healthy foods you can incorporate.
Before we discuss which foods are good for the heart and which you should limit, let’s discuss a few heart-healthy tips first.
Control Your Eating
How much you consume is as important as what you consume. Remember that overloading your plate and eating until you feel complete causes increased calorie consumption than your body needs. If you often eat in restaurants, the portions served are usually more than your consumption limit.
That said, following a few heart-healthy tips to control your eating is beneficial for shaping your diet while keeping your heart and waistline healthy. For instance, try using a small bowl or plate rather than a full plate for your food portion. Similarly, consume nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables.
In addition to incorporating healthy foods in your diet, try to limit fast and processed foods with high calories and sodium.
Fats Are Bad for Heart Health
Foods with unhealthy fats are among the most significant culprits that trigger heart disease. So, it is essential to limit the number of fats you consume. This way, you can reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of developing coronary artery disease. It is worth noting that high-cholesterol levels contribute significantly to plaque buildup in arteries, further increasing the chances of stroke or a heart attack.
|Fat Type||Recommended Value|
|Saturated Fat||Less than 6% of daily calorie consumption. It means if you consume 2,000 calories daily, you need 13 grams of fat.|
|Trans Fat||More harmful than saturated fat, you should exclude it from your diet entirely.|
Moreover, remember that cutting back on fat is as essential as incorporating foods that are good for the heart. You can do this by following some simple tips. For instance, remove fat from meat or simply incorporate lean meat into your diet. In addition, you can also limit margarine and buttering usage during your cooking.
Similarly, low-fat substitutes, such as low-sugar fruit spread on your toast, low-fat yogurt, and low-sodium baked potatoes in your diet, are also among heart-healthy foods.
Furthermore, read labels and buy food that’s good for the heart when shopping. Foods like frostings, cookies, chips, etc., are not only low in nutritional value but also contain Trans fats.
Low-Fat Protein Sources Are Heart-Healthy
Heart-healthy food sources, such as lean meat, low-fat dairy items, fish, and poultry, are rich protein sources. However, choosing low-fat sources with high protein value is essential, such as skim milk instead of whole milk or skinless chicken breast instead of fried chicken.
Moreover, fish is also a heart-healthy food and an excellent substitute for high-fat meats. For instance, certain fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for lower blood fats (triglycerides). Cold water fish species, such as herring, mackerel, and salmon, are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Furthermore, soybeans, canola oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts are excellent heart-healthy foods and contain no cholesterol.
Limit Sodium (Salt) to Maintain Good Heart Health
In addition to investigating what foods are good for the heart, preventing foods with links to heart disease is also essential. Try to exclude salt from your diet entirely. However, if that’s impossible, try to limit it at least. That’s because high salt consumption triggers abnormal blood pressure, one of the heart disease factors. So, a diet with limited salt is good for the heart.
According to the American Heart Association (AHS), healthy adults shouldn’t consume more than 2,300 mg of sodium (a teaspoon of salt) daily. In addition, this value decreases to 1,500 mgs a day for most adults.
Moreover, while limiting the amount of salt in your is an excellent first step in adopting a heart-healthy diet, much of the salt we consume comes from processed or canned foods. It includes backed items, soups, and frozen items. So, try to incorporate more fresh foods and prepare your soups, which will help limit salt consumption.
Now, let’s discuss which foods are good for the heart to incorporate into your diet!
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Foods that Are Good for the Heart
The list below examines the best foods for the heart and how they help keep your heart robust and healthy.
Vegetables that Are Good for the Heart
1. Asparagus for Heart Health
A good source of:
- Vitamin A, C, E, and K
Asparagus is a delightful springtime vegetable, famous for its slick, spear-like appearance. The name comes from the Greek word “asparagos,” meaning spring up. It is also one of the best foods for heart health. The versatility and delicate flavor of asparagus make it a staple worldwide. In addition, its health benefits are impressive as well.
For instance, asparagus is a rich source of folate, essential for eliminating the buildup of an amino acid (homocysteine) in the body. It is worth noting that high levels of homocysteine contribute significantly to heart-related conditions like stroke or coronary artery disease.
Moreover, being one of the foods that are good for the heart, asparagus also contains vitamin K, eliminating blood clots. In addition, it is a natural substitute for blood-thinning medications like warfarin, which enhances blood circulation in the body.
Furthermore, since high cholesterol in the body is another culprit linked to heart disease, asparagus contains fiber, which helps regulate cholesterol levels. The insoluble fiber in it binds to any cholesterol in the digestive and throws it out before we absorb it. Additionally, asparagus also has potassium, which is beneficial in regulating the heartbeat and lowering cholesterol.
2. Spinach for Heart Health
A good source of:
- Vitamins A, C, and K
Vegetables like spinach are good for health. It is also one of the most nutrient-rich, aids heart-healthy foods you can incorporate into your diet. For instance, the fiber content in spinach is beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels, whereas lutein found in spinach aid arteries. To get the most out of it, try to consume fresh spinach by adding it to your salads, risotto, and smoothies.
According to the research of Edith Cowan University, it is found that people who consume a cup of raw or half-cooked spinach daily are 26% less likely to develop a health condition. In addition to maintaining heart health, the Journal Biomaterials 2017 edition also suggests that spinach is beneficial for repairing a damaged heart.
3. Kale with Abundant Heart-Friendly Nutrients
A good source of:
- Vitamin A, K, B6, and C.
Rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and beta-carotene, Kale offers impressive heart and overall health benefits, including weight management, eye health, etc.
Being one of the foods that are good for the heart, Kale is a rich source of abundant heart-healthy nutrients. Incorporating Kale into your heart-healthy diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart-related conditions by lowering harmful cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol).
Due to high antioxidant levels and beta-carotene, Kale also assists in countering oxidative damage by eliminating free radicals. It is worth noting that oxidative damage is also among the culprits that contribute to many heart and chronic conditions, including cancer.
According to test-tube and animal research, Kale also contains compounds like flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which ease inflammation, reduce the growth of cancer cells, and support heart health. In addition, certain kale substances also help lower cholesterol levels by throwing bile acids out of our digestive system and preventing them from reabsorbing.
4. Beans for Preventing Certain Heart Conditions
A good source of:
As an excellent source of resistant starch, beans are also among the food that is good for heart health. The resistant starch in beans resists digestion and keeps beneficial bacteria in our gut. It also can positively impact the gut and specific microbiota of its family.
Many studies indicate that incorporating beans into your heart-healthy foods list can reduce the risk of certain heart-related conditions. For instance, research on 16 participants suggests that eating pinto beans can significantly reduce blood triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels.
Moreover, another review of 26 studies also discovered that adopting a bean and legume-rich diet can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, bean consumption is also beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease factors like inflammation and blood pressure.
Fruits that Are Good for the Heart
1. Apples for Good Heart Health
A good source of:
- Vitamin C
- Strong antioxidants
Remember a famous saying from your childhood, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Not only is this deliciously sweet fruit an excellent source of fiber and flavonoids, but apples also contain many other beneficial compounds. For instance, some research indicatesoffers that people with a healthy diet are less likely to experience high blood pressure.
Moreover, consuming a medium-sized apple daily helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure and aids inflammation. In addition, unpeeled apples are an excellent source of fiber and other beneficial compounds (polyphenols) that support heart health.
2. Apricots Support Heart Health
A good source of:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Polyphenol Antioxidants
Despite their tiny size, apricots are prized for their flavor and nutrition. These fruits are an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins, offeringsuitable significant health benefits. As a food good for heart health, apricot flavonoids are a health parameter that offers premature offer, offering suitable work as a team to support and strengthen blood vessels while aiding inflammation.
Moreover, potassium in apricots benefits nerve and muscle health and supports blood pressure. All these benefits are great for keeping and maintaining a healthy heart. In addition, they are also among the foods good for the heart and known for their cholesterol-busting properties.
Furthermore, the high beta-carotene content prizes apricots as one of the heart-healthy foods you can incorporate into your diet.
3. Berries Are Great for Good heart health
A good source of:
- Vitamin C & K
Whether you eat blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, they all are excellent sources of fiber and vitamin C. It is worth noting that since berries are high in fiber, incorporating them into your heart-healthy foods list means they can help you lower harmful cholesterol levels and prevent the risk of heart disease.
Moreover, unlike other frozen foods or canned foods, frozen berries are as beneficial as fresh, meaning you can enjoy these yummy fruits all year round. In addition to heart-healthy, berries promote gut health, slow healthypremature aging, improve circulation, and relieve stress.
4. Bananas for Lowering Blood Pressure
A good source of:
- Vitamin C
Bananas are also among the foods good for heart health. These prevalent fruits are packed with essential nutrients that positively impact health. For instance, American Heart Association associates advise people to limit sodium intake and incorporate heart-healthy foods high in potassium in their diets. Potassium in bananas is beneficial for managing blood pressure and reducing strain on our cardiovascular system.
Similarly, contents, such as folate, potassium, antioxidants, etc., found in bananas also support heart health. According to a 2017 research, people with a high-fiber diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular problems than those with a low-fiber diet. In addition, those who consume more fiber also have lower cholesterol levels (LDL).
5. Oranges are the Real Winner among Heart-Healthy Foods
A good source of:
- Vitamin C
Citrus fruits are among the top foods in the foods suitable for heart health. According to research, flavonoids in oranges contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory forces. In addition, they may also help improve blood pressure, warding off the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Like other heart-healthy foods on this list, oranges are also a rich source of potassium and fiber, essential for good heart health. For instance, a high potassium intake may help reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Oranges are mainly attributed to this due to their potassium content.
In addition to improved heart health, other health benefits of oranges include reduced risk of diabetes, skin-related problems, and enhanced immune system.
Other Heart-Healthy Foods
In addition to vegetables and fruits, a few other foods that are good for the heart include:
Whole Grains for Good Heart Health
Whole grain varieties have nutrient-rich properties, such as oats, whole wheat, quinoa, barley, rye, brown rice, and buckwheat. While refined carbohydrates harm heart health, entire grains are proactive and reduce the risk of developing heart disease by up to 20%. For instance, many studies indicate that incorporating whole grains into your heart-healthy foods list can promote heart health.
One examination of 45 studies concluded that consuming three or more servings of whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 22%. They are also beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of stroke.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Good Heart Health
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids have been found beneficial for heart health. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids in fish play a proactive role in decreasing the risk of heart disease. According to a study, it is found that consuming fish for more extended periods can lower harmful cholesterol levels (LDL), blood triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
Moreover, omega three fatty acid food is associated with a lower risk of depression and cardiovascular disease. However, if you don’t like fish, you can incorporate fish oil into your heart-healthy foods list to get your daily need of omega-3 fatty acids.
While almost all nuts are healthy, some have more heart-healthy content than their companions. For instance, walnuts are an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids, whereas almonds are prized for their artery-cleaning properties. According to an animal study, daily consumption of walnuts is also associated with unclogging arteries to ensure that your heart stays healthy.
They are among the foods great for the heart and can significantly reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart problems, and dyslipidemia.
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So, which foods are good for the heart? You can incorporate more leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and whole grains into your heart-healthy diet. However, in addition to consuming healthy foods, limiting foods linked with heart disease risk factors, including sodium, fat, etc is essential. Moreover, regular exercise is also an excellent way to promote heart health.
Why is it important to eat heart-healthy foods?
Eating heart-healthy foods can help lower the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy blood pressure. These foods also provide essential nutrients that support overall health.
What are some examples of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables?
Examples of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables include berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support heart health.
Are whole grains better for the heart than refined grains?
Yes, whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, and oats are better for heart health compared to refined grains. They are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
What types of protein are good for the heart?
Lean sources of protein like skinless poultry, fish (especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel), and plant-based proteins such as legumes and tofu are good choices for heart health. They are lower in saturated fat and often provide essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
What are healthy fats for the heart?
Healthy fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, are beneficial for heart health. These fats contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Should I avoid all saturated fats for heart health?
While it’s a good idea to limit saturated fats, not all saturated fats are created equal. Some sources, like coconut oil, may have a neutral or even slightly positive impact on heart health, but moderation is still key.
How can I incorporate heart-healthy foods into my diet?
You can incorporate heart-healthy foods into your diet by planning balanced meals, cooking at home, and gradually making healthier food choices. Focus on variety, portion control, and mindful eating.
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