10 Best Foods for the Heart

Eat for your heart---it's delicious, simple and part of overall good health. By focusing on low-fat foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, you are well on your way to a healthy heart. Zoom in on these 10 power foods for even greater heart-healthy success.


A banana a day delivers around 600 mg of potassium, which lowers blood pressure. Get your heart-friendly dose of banana by slicing onto your morning cereal, blending into a smoothie or baking into bread. Substitute another high potassium fruit such as cantaloupe or citrus for variety.


A cup of chopped, raw broccoli packs 3 gm of fat-free protein, with fibre, calcium, vitamins C, E, B and antioxidants. Researchers at the University of Connecticut Cardiovascular Research Center released a study in January 2008 showing that heart protective factors in broccoli are due to the activation of several proteins. Eat broccoli raw or lightly steamed for maximum benefit; boiling destroys vitamins and antioxidants.


Grab a handful of unsalted almonds to increase your omega-3 fatty acid and antioxidant vitamin E levels. Omega-3 improved triglyceride levels by 25 to 30 per cent in patients fed concentrated sources, according to a study published by W.S. Harris in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sprinkle chopped almonds on top of salads, or mix into rice dishes for added texture.


Oatmeal lowers cholesterol by binding molecules needed to make cholesterol and escorting them out of the bloodstream. A bowl of oats also provides loads of fibre and B vitamins. Spice up the oatmeal routine by adding raisins, nuts, dried fruit, apples or cinnamon.


Soy is a high-quality protein, devoid of cholesterol, and contains isoflavones that lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Drink a soy "milk" beverage or try tofu, but watch out for processed soy protein foods with high sodium, such as soy hot dogs.

Olive Oil

According to the Mayo Clinic, olive oil with its monounsaturated fat is just one key element of the Mediterranean diet that can help your heart. Untainted by hydrogenated, trans or saturated fats, olive oil is even better if you choose "extra virgin" or "virgin"---it's the least processed.


Full of omega-3, salmon can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiac arrest. As little as one fish meal per week resulted in a 50 per cent decrease in the risk of cardiac arrest, according to a 2000 study by Siscovick in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Opt for fatty fish such as salmon, herring and tuna, as they are the most effective at lowering your disease risk.


Super-rich in flavonoids, dark cocoa is one indulgence you can feel good about eating in moderation. For a low-fat treat, make hot cocoa with skim or lowfat milk and dark cocoa powder.


Full of anthocyanins, a substance found in their intense pigmentation, cherries may lower cholesterol, and help the body handle fat and sugar.

Red Grapes and Wine

Red grapes may lower blood pressure and improve heart functions thanks to their antioxidant rich skin. Remove invisible pesticides from grape skins before eating by washing thoroughly.

Resveratrol is a popular substance in red wine---but not white---that appears to protect against artery damage. While the American Heart Association does not recommend that you start drinking alcohol to prevent heart disease, if you already enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, keep to 147ml. a day. Alcohol consumption above that amount is associated with increased heart risks.

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About the Author

Sarah Vanegas is a nutritionist based in California. She has worked in community, prenatal and pediatric nutrition, and currently is a personal nutrition counselor. Passionate about the connection between good nutrition and health, she loves sharing her insight through writing. She received her Master of Science degree in nutrition from Oregon State University.