10 Foods for a Healthy Heart

You probably know to lay off the fried foods and other sources of artery-clogging fats to keep your heart happy, but what about the foods you should be eating to keep it healthy? Here’s our top 10 list.
149352916

149352916

Red kale

Photo by: Lyudmila Suvorova

Lyudmila Suvorova

You probably know to lay off the fried foods and other sources of artery-clogging fats to keep your heart happy, but what about the foods you should be eating to keep it healthy? In honor of Heart Health Month, here’s our top 10 list.

Salmon

One of the very best sources of heart-guarding omega-3 fats and so easy to prepare. Try this 5-ingredient recipe for an effortless weeknight dinner.

Oats

All types of whole grains can help your heart. Soluble fiber, like the kind found in oats is especially good for those arteries. Eating enough can help lower your total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Make oatmeal a few days a week for breakfast, munch on nuts mixed with oat cereal for a snack, and give oat bran a try in recipes for breads and muffins.

Beans

Whether you prefer kidney, cannelini or pinto, beans are another way to get some of that heart-pleasing soluble fiber. They also pack in the protein, folate and iron to keep your red blood cells thriving. Learn more about the benefits of beans.

Green Leafy Veggies

Green veggies like Swiss chard, kale, collards, bok choy and spinach offer up antioxidants like lutein as well as fiber, folate, potassium and calcium -- all nutrients on the healthy-heart hit list.

Red Wine

All types of alcohol have been shown to help with heart health, and it’s one of the few food options that help raise the “good” HDL type of cholesterol. Red wine also contains the added benefits of some potent antioxidants. Be sure to keep the servings limited to no more than 1 (5-ounce glass) per day for women and 2 for men. Not sure which red wine to pick? We asked an expert for some good (and affordable) reds.

Olive Oil

It’s a common misconception that all fat is bad for your heart. The monounsaturated fats found in olives and olive oil actually help your heart by keeping cholesterol down when they replace less healthy fats in your diet.

Nuts

Nuts like almonds and walnuts help you load up on cell-protecting vitamin E and the other kind of heart-healthy fats known as "polyunsaturated." These types of fats help your body reduce the accumulation of cholesterol deposits in your arteries.

Berries

You can’t go wrong with berries -- blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or any other berry you can think of. Bursting with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants like anthocyanins, they're bite-sized nutrient powerhouses.

Lean Meats

Surprised to see meat on this list? When you choose lean cuts over fatty ones, you’ll significantly reduce your intake of saturated fat (the kind that increases your cholesterol). Trim all visible fat and skin from chicken breast, pork tenderloin and turkey and go for leaner cuts of red meat like flank steak or beef tenderloin on occasion.  That way you’re taking advantage of the protein and iron in meat, just cutting back on the fat.

Low-Fat and Nonfat Dairy

For the same reason meat made the list, we are recommending lowfat or nonfat dairy to keep your heart going strong. Skim milk, nonfat yogurt, low-fat cheeses, and even treats like frozen yogurt provide calcium, protein and much-needed vitamin D. Taking most or all of the saturated fat out of the mix makes these dairy products more heart-friendly choices.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

You Might Also Like:

Keep Reading

Next Up

What Makes a Heart-Healthy Food?

There’s a lot more to heart health than just cutting out junk food. Get to know which foods are good for your heart plus get 10 heart-healthy recipes.

10 Foods for Healthy Hair

What you eat affects every part of your body -- even your hair. When it comes to keeping your locks lovely, some nutrients play an extra important role. Here are 10 foods to keep on your plate.

10 Healthy Foods Under $3

It’s a common misconception that healthy foods have to carry a high price tag. Here are 10 foods teeming with nutrients that won’t bust your budget.

Top 10 Foods For A Healthy Mouth

We’ve been taught to brush twice a day and floss, but eating the right foods also contributes to clean and shiny teeth and gums. Keep your mouth happy by chomping on these 10 foods.

10 Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

Deciphering which foods are healthy can be tough. Some foods that are marketed as “healthy” are anything but. Other foods might not have a fancy label or have a bad reputation (dark meat, anyone?) and you're passing them up. Here are 10 foods you may be avoiding unnecessarily.

10 More Foods That Are Healthier Than You Think

Some folks quit their favorite foods to be healthy but there's good news: some of these foods, like cheese, pizza and chocolate, are healthier than you think.

10 More Healthy Foods Under $3

Our original top 10 healthy foods under $3 list was so popular, readers asked for more. You asked and we listened—here are 10 more healthy foods that won’t break the bank.

Heart-Healthy Meals

To honor American Heart Month, our friends at Foodnetwork.com are dishing out recipes that are low in cholesterol but high in flavor. Check out their favorites -- plus, see which seven foods can help lower cholesterol and eight simple steps for better heart health.