15 Incredible Foods for a Healthy Heart

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The best foods to keep a healthy heart include salmon, walnuts, green tea, olive oil, apples, blueberries, spinach, chia seeds, beans, avocados, and many more!

Cardiovascular diseases make up the single greatest cause of death on the planet. Between ischaemic heart disease, strokes, and hypertension-related deaths, more than 17 million people die each year due to cardiovascular issues. For that reason, protecting their heart is one of the most important and imperative things that everyone needs to do, even at a young age. Preventing situations like unbalanced cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, plaque build-up in your arteries, and unnecessary strain on your cardiovascular system is of the utmost importance. [1]

Unfortunately, modern society also has a fascination with foods that are notoriously bad for the body! Most heart diseases are as a result of lifestyle, not genetic predisposition; in other words, we bring these problems on ourselves. High-fat, high-sodium and high-carb diets are all responsible for heart disease in the world, along with a reduction in mobility, lack of exercise, and a variety of other lifestyle choices. Fortunately, although we bring heart diseases onto ourselves, we also have the power to prevent heart disease and lower the chances of developing various cardiovascular conditions. Millions of people turn to pharmaceutical solutions to lower blood pressure and maintain the health of their heart, but by manipulating your diet to include as many heart-healthy foods as possible, you can keep your ticket in top shape well into your old age. Also, intake of lean beef may also help in lowering blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. [2] [3] [4]

Foods for a Healthy Heart

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best foods you can add to your diet to improve the health of your heart.


Almonds, walnuts, and other varieties of nuts are all beneficial for heart health due to their impressive mineral content, including high levels of magnesium, as well as their great balance of monounsaturated fats as compared to saturated fats. This can help lower overall cholesterol levels. However, many nuts come salted, which is definitely not a heart-healthy choice, so opt for the unsalted varieties whenever possible. [5]

Olive Oil

Plenty of monounsaturated fats in olive oil make it much better for cooking than butter or lard, and it also makes for a great, low-calorie salad dressing. There are also important antioxidant polyphenols that reduce inflammation of the cardiovascular system. Make sure to go for extra-virgin olive oil, as it is normally considered the healthiest option! [6]

Brussel Sprouts

Although the smell puts people off sometimes, these miniature cabbage heads are well-known for their anti-inflammatory activity in the cardiovascular system, not to mention the penchant of Brussel sprouts for lowering blood pressure! According to a recent study, plant-based foods contain antioxidants(polyphenols) that may improve blood sugar in people at risk for diabetes and heart disease. [7]


Often considered one of the best foods to keep a healthy heart, salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels, while the high content of selenium found in fish like salmon has been directly linked to antioxidant effects, thus reducing oxidative stress and lowering your chances of developing chronic disease, including atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular complications. [9]

Green Tea

The catechins and flavonols that are found in such significant quantities in green tea are ideal antioxidants to reduce chronic diseases and improve metabolism, both of which keeps your heart healthy and strong. Research shows that high levels of green tea in the diet can reduce your chances of a heart attack by nearly 50%. [10]

A heart-shaped plate filled with heart-friendly foods such as dark chocolate, berries, fruits, and nuts

Foods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Red Wine

Wine helps the heart in a variety of ways, both as a blood thinner, which lowers the chances of blood clot formation, as well as due to the tannins it contains, which are powerful polyphenolic compounds that reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, women can benefit from alcohol because it increases the amount of estrogen in the body; low estrogen levels have been linked to heart disease in post-menopausal women. However, remember to drink in moderation, as excessive alcohol intake can do damage to your heart and liver. [11]

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonols, which have been linked to thinning the blood and preventing clotting, which seriously decreases your chances of strokes and heart attacks. Furthermore, the epicatechin found in dark chocolate is able to lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel health by boosting nitric oxide levels, a very important compound for a healthy heart. [12]


This “superfood” seems to make it onto every healthy foods list – and with good reason! The anthocyanins that give blueberries their color are also powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation, while the high levels of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium help to regulate metabolism, digestion, and blood pressure, all of which contribute to a healthier heart! [13]

Whole Grains

Grain choices like bran and rice are able to reduce gluten content in the body, which has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels and helping to prevent clogged arteries that can lead to atherosclerosis and many other cardiovascular complications. [14]

Chia Seeds

These slightly unusual seeds are a low-calorie, high-fiber, omega-3 fatty acid titan in the world of heart health. Adding chia seeds to your daily diet significantly lowers your “bad” cholesterol levels, protecting against the development of atherosclerosis and plaque buildup in your arteries. [15]


These delicious fruits are able to increase levels of “good” (HDL) cholesterol and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, making avocados a perfect addition to increase the strength and health of your cardiovascular system. [16]


Legumes benefit heart health in two ways. The soluble fiber helps to inhibit the formation of cholesterol, while the flavonoids in beans can reduce the chances of blood clotting by lowering platelet adhesion, thereby protecting you against atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. [17]


Although most fruits and vegetables are considered to be beneficial for a healthy heart, apples are particularly good due to their high antioxidant content, particularly in their skin, in the form of polyphenolic compounds. Regularly adding apples to your heart-healthy diet has been found to reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels by more than 40%. This is partially due to pectin, which blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the body, and fiber, which eliminates excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. [18]


Spinach and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, are a great blend of minerals and vitamins, including potassium, vitamin B, and calcium, as well as dietary fiber and various antioxidant compounds. This potent blend of nutrients helps to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and protect against oxidative stress. [19]


Research shows that raisins might be a hidden secret for a healthy heart, thanks to their high content of potassium, a natural vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels, reduces blood pressure, and lowers your chances of blood clots, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. [20]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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