Top Heart Healthy Foods

Weight loss, the cessation of smoking, and regular exercise can all be highly beneficial to your heart. Did you know that you can also improve your heart health by eating certain foods? Below, you can discover some top heart-healthy foods so you can alter your diet or keep eating the foods you already love.

Red Wine

Not only does red wine make you seem like an elegant diner, but it can also contribute to your heart health. The next time you need an excuse to order a glass at dinner, you can claim your cardiovascular health as your reason. Red wine is rich in antioxidants that can raise your body’s levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This good cholesterol can reduce the risk of cholesterol buildup and help your heart function optimally. Red wine’s antioxidants may also keep your blood vessels in tip-top shape and promote the adequate flow of blood to and from your heart.

Note that you should always drink red wine in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing medical problems such as high blood pressure or heart failure. You should also avoid red wine if you have a family history of alcohol abuse.

Limit your consumption appropriately. Experts often suggest that women limit their consumption of red wine to one glass (five ounces) per night and that men limit their consumption to two glasses per night. Be sure to talk with your doctor about how much you can safely drink depending on your current circumstances.


Seafood tends to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are unsaturated fats that decrease inflammation throughout the body. Excess inflammation can harm the blood vessels that connect to your heart, which may result in strokes or heart disease. These fatty acids can reduce abnormal heartbeats, decrease triglycerides, and reduce blood clotting.

Salmon is one of the several types of fish that contains abundant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like the taste of salmon, you can opt for other fish, including Atlantic mackerel, cod, herring, and lake trout. As you’re trying to improve your heart health, you can aim to consume two servings of one of these fish varieties per week. Talk with your doctor if you should limit your fish consumption, as pregnant women and other groups may need to adhere to limitations.

For added benefits, consider garnishing your salmon with fresh herbs such as coriander leaves. Coriander serves as a diuretic, which means it can reduce your blood pressure and expel excess sodium from your system. Both of these benefits can potentially lower your risk of heart disease. Coriander may also lower your bad cholesterol levels and may decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Black Beans

Black beans are an incredibly versatile food. You can scoop them into a breakfast burrito, add them to your favorite chili recipe, and whip up a hearty black bean soup. Black beans are rich in magnesium, antioxidants, and folate, all of which can help decrease your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, black beans may help increase the elasticity of your blood vessels and promote better blood flow to the heart.

The fiber that black beans have can also keep your blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check. If you’re getting your black beans from a can, consider rinsing them before adding them to your desired dish. Rinsing black beans can help remove excess salt that can contribute to high blood pressure.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a heart-healthy cooking ingredient that comes from mashed olives. It has plenty of antioxidants that can keep your blood vessels working properly. It’s a good idea to substitute olive oil for saturated fats like butter whenever possible. Making this swap may help you lower your levels of bad cholesterol. Some ways to enjoy olive oil include dipping your bread in it, using it to cook vegetables, and drizzling it onto a salad.

When possible, try to use cold-pressed olive oil. This type of olive oil is made without the use of heat or extra chemicals, so it retains many of its beneficial nutrients during the production process.

Whole Grains

As much as you may love breakfast cereals and white bread, it may be time to ditch them and opt for whole grains instead. Whole grains don’t leave out any essential nutrients like their refined counterparts do. Whole grains have the bran, endosperm, and germ parts of the grain. The inclusion of these parts makes whole grains much healthier for your heart, as they protect against coronary heart disease instead of increasing your risk of it. They may also help lower your systolic blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Some examples of heart-healthy whole grain food items include whole barley, quinoa, brown rice, and corn. Be mindful when you’re shopping for whole grains at the grocery store. Look for products with labels like “whole wheat” or “whole grain.” Be wary of products with a “multigrain” label, as this label may not guarantee that a product is a whole grain.

Sweet Potatoes

The next time you’re by the potatoes in the supermarket, consider picking up some sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in lycopene, which is a compound with antioxidant properties. This root vegetable has a lower glycemic index compared to regular potatoes, which may prevent dramatic increases in your blood sugar levels.

If you order sweet potatoes at a restaurant, you may receive a dish topped with sugary caramel dressing and marshmallows. Forgo these toppings and opt for garnishes like lime juice or cinnamon to enhance the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes without skyrocketing your blood sugar levels.

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