Keep your heart in the best shape by choosing nutrient-rich foods that are low in sugar and unhealthy fats.
The food we eat every day can make or break our wellness goals, underscoring the importance of choosing wisely. The American Heart Association recommends foods that contain an abundance of nutrients, such as fiber and protein, what you don’t also eat matters. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, sodium, and trans fats.
If you are looking to revamp your diet to improve your cardiovascular health, keep these items on your grocery list:
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna
- Fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen without sauces or added sugar or salt)
- Foods and oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including almonds, avocados, pine nuts, walnuts, salmon, trout, canola, sunflower, and corn oils
- Lean sources of protein, such as eggs, poultry, tofu, tempeh, beans, peas, and lentils
- Whole grains
Get creative as you cook to support cardiac health. Search the internet for heart-healthy recipes. Try different flavors and combinations, and incorporate seasonal ingredients to keep your menus as inspiring as they are nourishing.
Foods That Can Sabotage Your Heart-Healthy Diet
You have been working diligently to fill up on heart-healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Well done! But eating healthy foods is only one piece of the puzzle. Limiting your intake of salt-laden, sugar-rich items is also important.
Menu items to skip include:
- Processed meats—Deli meats, such as bologna, sausage, and turkey, are typically preserved with nitrites and salt.
- Refined grains—Items like white rice and bread may cause blood sugar spikes. They’re also missing lots of the nutrients found in their whole-grain counterparts, such as dietary fiber and phytonutrients.
- Soda—A 12-ounce can of this bubbly drink can pack as many as 10 teaspoons of sugar and more than 100 empty calories. To keep your diet on track, consider water flavored with fruit slices, sugar-free tea, and coffee, and low-calorie 100% fruit juices instead.
Sources: heart.org, myplate.gov, nhlbi.nih.gov