Heart-healthy foods to add to your diet

A healthy diet can help people lower their risk for various conditions, including heart disease. That’s a significant benefit, as the World Health Organization estimates that 32% of deaths worldwide can be attributed to cardiovascular disease, an umbrella term used to refer to a group of heart and blood-vessel disorders.
Individuals who want to change their diets are urged to speak with their physicians for insight regarding specific changes to address preexisting issues. However, it never hurts to consider heart-healthy foods, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends adding these to your shopping list.

Fruits and vegetables

Variety is the spice of life, and the good news is that an assortment of fruits and vegetables promote heart health. That means individuals can eat a heart-healthy diet without eating the same foods every day. The ODPHP notes that fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables can all promote a healthy heart.
♦ Fresh vegetables: Tomatoes, cabbage and carrots.
♦ Fresh fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, pears and peaches.
♦ Leafy greens: Spinach, Romaine lettuce and kale.
♦ Canned vegetables: Look for low-sodium canned veggies.
♦ Frozen vegetables: Look for products without added butter or sauces.
♦ Canned, frozen or dried fruit: Look for varieties with no added sugars.


The ODPHP recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy. Such products include:
♦ Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
♦ Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt.
♦ Fat-free or low-fat cheese or cottage cheese.
♦ Soy milk with added calcium plus vitamins A and D.

Whole grains

Various products may be promoted as “whole grain,” but the ODPHP notes that whole wheat or another whole grain should be listed first in the ingredient list. Products that are “100% whole grain” also should be chosen over the alternatives.
♦ Whole-grain bread, bagels, English muffins and tortillas.
♦ Whole-grain hot or cold breakfast cereals with no added sugar, such as oatmeal or shredded wheat.
♦ Whole grains like brown or wild rice, quinoa, or oats.
♦ Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and couscous.


Heart-healthy proteins can add variety to a diet, which makes it easier to enjoy different flavors and dishes.
♦ Seafood, such as fish and shellfish.
♦ Poultry: Chicken or turkey breast without skin, or lean ground chicken or turkey (at least 93% lean).
♦ Lean meats: Pork shoulder, beef sirloin or lean ground beef (at least 93% lean).
♦ Beans, peas and lentils: Black beans and chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
♦ Eggs.
♦ Unsalted nuts, seeds and nut butters, such as almond or peanut butter.
♦ Tofu

Healthy fats and oils

When cooking with fat and oil, cooks are urged to replace saturated fat with healthier unsaturated fats.
♦ Avoid cooking with butter. Cook instead with oil, including canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean or sunflower oils.
♦ Choose oil-based salad dressings, such as balsamic vinaigrette or Italian, instead of creamy dressings like ranch.

A heart-healthy diet is full of flavor and can help people reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease.