Heart disease is a major killer, accounting for one out of every four deaths in the U.S. each year. There are many risk factors for heart disease. Some, like family history, are out of our control. Age, too, is a factor: as we get older, our risk of coronary heart disease rises. But there are plenty of things we can do to lower that risk. One of the most powerful is to eat a healthy diet.
The good news is, a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or unappetizing. In fact, a diet based on colorful fresh fruits and vegetables, hearty whole grains, lean proteins, crunchy seeds and nuts, and savory legumes can be both fun and delicious!
Just to prove it, I’d like to share five of my all-time favorite natural, healthy foods that are powerhouses for helping your heart. Here they are!
My Favorite Foods for Your Heart
- Salmon. This cold-water fish is a great source of lean protein. Even more important for your heart, it’s super high in omega 3 fatty acids, a type of fat that studies have proved to be highly protective of heart health. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of omega 3-rich fish per week. Salmon is so delicious it’s easy to do. Enjoy it smoked, grilled, or broiled with a squeeze of lemon. (And if you tune in to my video above, I’ll tell you when I most love to eat this fish – it may come as a surprise!)
- Blueberries. Sweet, juicy, and beautiful to behold, these colorful native North American berries are delicious on their own, stirred into yogurt, added to salads, or baked into muffins or healthy fruit-based desserts. Blueberries are high in flavonoids, antioxidant compounds known to support heart health. As an added bonus, blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, a specific type of flavonoid that has been shown to help with weight loss.
- Dark chocolate. Chocolate is associated with love for a reason: it’s a superfood for the heart! People who eat chocolate have lower rates of heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and death from heart disease. Scientists chalk chocolate’s heart-protective properties up to the presence of naturally occurring chemical compounds called polyphenols in this popular food. For the biggest benefit to your heart (and the rest of your body), choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.
- Green tea. Even the things you drink can protect your heart. This afternoon, reach for a steaming cup of nourishing green tea. Green tea is full of catechins, a type of polyphenol that provides multiple benefits to your heart. Green tea also suppresses the appetite, so it’s great for keeping junk food cravings at bay!
- Pineapple. To round out our list, reach for a succulent slice of pineapple! This tropical fruit contains bromelain, an enzyme that is thought to protect the heart and reduce blood clot formation. If you eat pineapple to protect your heart, make sure you eat it at least one hour away from any other food (watch my video above to find out why!)
While eating well is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease, it’s just one of many factors. If you have a history of heart disease in your family, or would like help creating the perfect heart disease prevention plan, click here to schedule a consultation with our Patient Care Concierge.