9 Foods That Can Promote a Healthy Heart

Woman harvesting lettuce on sunny day.

The human heart is an amazing machine. Every day it beats 115,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through the body. The heart is a vital organ that impacts the healthiness of your body, so it’s important to take good care of it. Here are nine foods that can promote a healthy heart.

    1. Whole grains – Research shows that eating whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, whole wheat, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa, benefits your heart. Look for products labeled “whole grain” vs. those marked “multigrain” or “wheat flour.” Eating three or more servings of whole grains daily can lower the risk of heart disease by 22 percent and stroke by 25 percent.
    2. Berries – Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants that can reduce multiple risk factors for heart disease and enhance the healthiness of your heart.
    3. Leafy green vegetables – Leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens, contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are especially rich in vitamin K. This helps protect your arteries, assist with blood clotting, provide nitrates that can reduce blood pressure, and improve artery and blood vessel function. Researchers discovered that daily consumption of leafy green vegetables reduced heart disease by 16 percent.
    4. Avocados – An excellent source of potassium, avocados also are rich in monounsaturated fats that can reduce levels of cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease.
    5. Nuts and seeds – Unsalted walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, macadamia and hazelnuts, along with hemp, chia and flax seeds, are excellent sources of heart-healthy nutrients, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They can help lower cholesterol and reduce plaque buildup in the arteries. But since nuts are high in calories, the American Heart Association recommends eating only 1.5 ounces, or a small handful, daily.
    6. Legumes – Beans, lentils, chickpeas and black-eyed peas contain high levels of soluble fiber, which can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. Eating several portions of legumes daily can lower blood pressure and inflammation that contributes to heart disease.
    7. Fatty fish – Salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that can lower total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure. Nutritionists recommend eating three, 3.5-ounce servings each week. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are supplements that contain krill (related to shrimp) or algal oil (an algae, vegan alternative).
    8. Green tea – Research shows that green tea contains antioxidants that protect the heart by preventing cell damage and reducing inflammation. Green tea also can decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and significantly lower levels of LDL (the bad one) and total cholesterol.
    9. Lowfat yogurt – One study found that women who ate yogurt at least five times a week lowered their blood pressure, which can impact heart health, by 20 percent.
Small boy eating dessert with blueberries.