The 5 Healthiest & Best Foods for Heart Health

Heart problems are still the No. 1 killer of Americans. We know that exercise can make a huge difference to our heart health, but our eating habits can also prevent heart disease, including strokes and heart attacks. Julie Zumpano, a dietitian in the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic, says that “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. There is a great variety of fruits and vegetables that are good for your heart”. Although there isn’t a cure-all food, we’ve found the best foods for heart health.

You already know you need to ditch salty, fried and processed foods to keep your heart healthy. You might not know the best foods for heart health —the ones that actually improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure and provide nutrients that act like little ninja warriors in your bloodstream. The top foods that are particularly beneficial for your heart health are not as boring as you may think.

5.) Coldwater Fish

heart health

cooking.nytimes

Some types of fish are particularly beneficial for your heart health. Cold-water fish—think sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring—have an extra layer of fat to help them survive through frigid temperatures. While the thought of extra fat may send you running the other direction, your heart actually needs this fat, known as omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat, not only drop your bad LDL cholesterol, they help raise your good HDL cholesterol. You want that. The more HDL cholesterol you have in your body, the more protection your heart has. “Omega-3s have an anti-clotting effect, so they keep your blood flowing,” says Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont. The omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside the arteries). The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week or taking omega-3 dietary supplements.