9 heart-healthy foods to support your cardiovascular health

Add chia seeds or flaxseed to your smoothies or salads as a crunchy topping.

Add chia seeds or flaxseed to your smoothies or salads as a crunchy topping.

What you need to know:

  • Foods that support your heart health can be found in different forms.
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle such as exercising, quitting smoking, and eating healthy foods. 
  • It is advisable to minimise foods with added sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat.

A healthy heart is a key to living a long and happy life. Besides keeping you alive, your heart plays a vital role in how well you sleep, think, and feel about yourself.

Apart from exercising regularly and avoiding cigarettes, another way to support your cardiovascular health is eating heart-healthy foods.

Here are nine of the best:

Avocados

The fats in avocados are good for you and can support your cardiovascular health. These fats are known as monounsaturated fats. They lower harmful cholesterol levels while raising your good cholesterol levels. Additionally, avocados are a great source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin E – which are important for heart health.

Try adding avocado to your salads, sandwiches, or even just eating it plain as a snack.

Fish oil

Fish oil is an excellent source of omega fatty acids, important for maintaining heart health. These fatty acids can lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

You can find fish oils in supplement form or eat oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, and sardines.

Walnuts and almonds

Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, fibre, and protein –  which are important for heart health. In addition, walnuts and almonds are high in antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage.

Besides being eaten as snacks, nuts make a powerful addition to salads or oatmeal.

Berries

Berries are a great source of antioxidants that protect your cells from damage. They are also a good source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C – which are important for heart health.

Some berries, like blueberries and blackberries, are high in anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory that can lower blood pressure.

Add berries to your yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.

Beans, peas, and lentils

Beans, peas, and lentils are rich in fibre – a nutrient that can lower your cholesterol levels. These plant-based foods are also high in protein, which means they are a great source of vegetarian protein.

Add beans and legumes to salads or soups for an extra boost of heart-healthy nutrients.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that can help protect your cells from damage. They’re also a great source of fibre and vitamin C – both important for heart health.

In addition, tomatoes are a low-glycemic food, meaning they will not cause your blood sugar levels to spike.

Add diced tomatoes to salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, or soups.

Vegetables

Vegetables are a good source of fibre, potassium, and vitamins C and E – essential nutrients for heart health. Some vegetables, like spinach and kale are high in antioxidants.

Add vegetables to your salads or meals as sides or toppings.

Olive oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is a healthy fat that can help lower the level of harmful cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol. It’s also a great source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.

You can use olive oil for cooking or as a salad dressing.

Seeds

Seeds are a great source of heart-healthy nutrients like fibre, protein, and healthy fats. In addition, some seeds, like flaxseeds and chia seeds, are exceptionally high in omega-fatty acids – an essential nutrient for maintaining heart health.

Add chia seeds or flaxseed to your smoothies or salads as a crunchy topping.

In addition, whole grains such as oats, barley, and quinoa are good for your heart. Try incorporating them in your breakfast or lunch recipes for a healthy dose of fibre and other nutrients that support cardiovascular health.

Foods that could trigger heart conditions

It is advisable to minimise foods with added sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat. These ingredients can negatively affect heart health by increasing harmful cholesterol levels, raising blood pressure, or increasing inflammation in the body.

Some of these foods include:

  • Sugary foods like candy and soda
  • High-fat baked foods like doughnuts, cakes, and pastries
  • Fried foods like French fries and fried chicken
  • Processed or cured meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage
  • Butter and other high-fat dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and milk

If you’re trying to eat heart-healthy, fill your diet with whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

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