The 25 best foods for your heart
The healthiest food for your heart
Can the contents of your kitchen seriously save your life? A growing body of research suggests that what you eat and drink can protect your body against myriad health woes—and studies have shown that up to 70% of heart disease cases are preventable with the right food choices.
“What's good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a renowned cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.
There’s just one little trick to turning your kitchen into a hub for heart health: Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is in varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains, and other items you enjoy every day. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the world’s 25 top foods for your heart—mix and match a handful of them every week to eat your way toward a healthier you.
-- By Deborah Hastings, Prevention.com
Wild salmon (not farmed)
Broiled, grilled or baked, this tasty, fleshy fish is replete with omega-3 fatty acids that improve the metabolic markers for heart disease. It also has rich levels of selenium, an antioxidant that studies have shown boosts cardiovascular protection. (Of course, not all salmon is created equal: Find out what The Invasion Of The Frankenfish means for your health.)
These spiny little creatures are also loaded with omega-3s in the form of fish oil, which increases “good” cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of sudden heart attacks in people who have experienced previous attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stick to fresh ones to avoid the canned variety's high salt content.
Liver contains fats that are good for the heart, says William Davis, MD, a Wisconsin-based preventive cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly. “That's the way humans are scripted,” he says. “Primitive humans ate the entire animal. Livers contain a lot of fats and that's healthy.”
This nut is chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E, and folate, all of which promote healthy hearts. It's also high in polyunsaturated fats. Eat them unsalted, of course. (Walnuts are also one of the healthiest foods for diabetics. Curious about what else is? We've rounded up the Top 12 Blood Sugar-Friendly Staples.)
Like walnuts, these crunchy, meaty nuts are big in omega-3s, and provide an alternative to folks who may not like the bitter bite of fleshy walnuts.
Just a spoonful of this plant-based omega-3 powerhouse contains only 60 calories and helps reduce bad cholesterol and plaque buildup. Mix them with yogurt, soup, or sprinkle on a salad. (Curious about the nutritional oomph of chia seeds? We've got the scoop on Chia Seed Health Benefits.)
The highly publicized benefits of eating your oatmeal have long shown it's a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol. But eat only the plain, non-processed kind. Instant and flavored oats are often drenched in processed sugar. (Steel-cut and rolled oats are both health superfoods. Find out which one reigns supreme in our Health Food Face-Off.)
These dark berries are packed with resveratrol (more about this powerful antioxidant later) and flavonoids, another antioxidant that helps prevent coronary disease. Put them in your oatmeal, in a smoothies, or in yogurt.
Caffeine junkies rejoice. According to Dr. Agatston, studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease, Agatston says. (That's not the only thing a cup of java can do. We've got 4 More Coffee Cures that'll convince you to drink up.)