What Are The Top 18 Heart-Healthy Foods to Eat?

  • Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022

What are some foods that are good for your heart?

A heart-healthy diet can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease due to its influence on cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation. The top 18 heart-healthy foods to eat include whole grains, fish, dairy products, and other foods.
A heart-healthy diet can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease due to its influence on cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation. The top 18 heart-healthy foods to eat include whole grains, fish, dairy products, and other foods.

Heart health is very important for people everywhere and is a pressing issue because heart disease is the cause of one-third of all deaths worldwide. In addition to genetics and physical activity, diet is important in assessing your risk for heart disease and overall health. The following foods contribute to a heart-healthy diet and can significantly decrease your risk due to their influence on cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, and inflammation.

1. Whole grains 

When a food has more than one ingredient, you should make sure that 100% whole grain is listed. This includes quinoa, English muffins, couscous, brown rice, oats, shredded wheat, and bagels.

2. Fish 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like tuna, salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel.

3. Healthy dairy 

Low-fat and fat-free dairy options are heart-healthy. This includes plain yogurt, 1% milk, cottage cheese, and soy milk with vitamin A, D, and added calcium.

4. Heart-healthy oils 

Extra virgin olive oil has a proven track record of healthy benefits for your heart. It is loaded with monounsaturated fats, which lower bad LDL cholesterol. It is also rich in antioxidants which help prevent damage in the body from free radicals. They damage arterial walls and make it easier for fat deposits to stick. 

5. Seeds

Seeds like flaxseeds have fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytoestrogens. These boost heart health and are best-eaten ground or milled. Chia seeds also have fiber, protein, and omega-3s and can be eaten whole.

6. Vegetables 

Frozen, fresh, dried, or canned, you should eat a variety of vegetables. Fresh vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes are heart-healthy. Eat canned vegetables that are lower in sodium. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce are also good. If you eat frozen vegetables, make sure they don't have added sauces or butter. 

7. Legumes

Dried beans and lentils are high in B-vitamins, fiber, minerals, and more. This includes pinto, kidney, garbanzo, and black beans. 

8. Nuts 

Almonds and walnuts are considered healthy nuts. A handful will help your hunger cravings and help your heart. A great source of fiber, walnuts are also plentiful in micronutrients like copper, magnesium, and manganese. 

9. Fruits 

Fruit is also heart-healthy. This includes oranges, apples, pears, bananas, peaches, and more. When eating dried, canned, or frozen fruit, make sure there is no added sugar

10. Oats 

Oats are comfort food rich in nutrients. Toasting oats and adding them to salads, yogurt, or trail mix is a different way to eat them if you do not like the taste of them cooked.  

11. Proteins 

There are several options to choose from when eating heart-healthy proteins. Poultry like chicken or turkey skin free should be 93% lean. Other lean meats include ground beef, beef sirloin, and pork shoulder, which are at least 93% lean. Beans, peas, and lentils are also high in protein, as are unsalted nuts and nut butter.  

12. Berries

Berries are full of heart-healthy phytonutrients. They also have soluble fiber and pack an extra healthy punch when added to cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal.

13. Wine, yes! 

Red wine can help improve HDL, which is good cholesterol. Men can have two four-ounce glasses daily, and women can have one. 

14. Soy 

Marinated tofu and edamame beans are heart-healthy. Add them to stir-fry or soup for a heart-healthy meal. Like most soy products, edamame is high in isoflavones. This is the type of flavonoid that can help to reduce cholesterol levels.

15. Dark chocolate, yes again!

Heart health is supported by dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better it is for you. Fiber and protein are more plentiful with higher cocoa concentrations and lower sugar rates. Dark chocolate has elevated levels of antioxidants like flavonoids. Eating it has been tied to a lower risk of having calcified plaques in the arteries and a lower risk of coronary heart disease

16. Garlic

Garlic has been a natural remedy for illness for centuries. Research shows that it has medicinal properties and is good for your heart. This is due to allicin, which has numerous heart therapeutic effects. In a study, taking garlic extract for 24 weeks was as good at reducing blood pressure as some prescription drugs. Garlic can lower overall cholesterol levels by an average of 9–17 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). It also inhibits platelet buildup, which can lead to stroke and blood clots. Be sure to consume it raw or crush it. 

17. Green tea

Green tea has numerous health benefits, from burning fat to blood sugar control. It has polyphenols and catechins that act as antioxidants reducing inflammation, cell damage, and heart protection. 

A study showed that green tea extract increases leptin and reduces bad cholesterol in overweight women. Also, taking the extract for three months has been shown to lower blood pressure and total cholesterol.

18. Avocado

Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fat, which is good for the heart. It has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Studies have shown avocados lowered cholesterol in the diets of 45 overweight people that ate one avocado a day. They had a reduction in LDL cholesterol, and studies proved the cardioprotective and lipid-lowering effects. Avocados are rich in potassium which is essential for heart health. One supplies 28% of the daily recommended amount, which is 975 milligrams. 

Other heart-healthy dietary tips

Diet is important for heart maintenance. So it is very important to manage what you eat. In situations where you cannot control your food choices, these tips can help:

  • Cut down on eating saturated fat: Try to eat less fatty meat and dairy products high in fat. This includes burgers, pizza, and creamy gravies and sauces. 
  • Eat more fiber: At any meal, take in plenty of fiber. Add whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fruit to implement more dietary fiber. 
  • Reduce your salt/sodium intake: Take the time to read nutrition facts labels on all products. Choose the ones that are lower in sodium and have no salt added.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022

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Cleveland Clinic: "12 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet.

Current hypertension reports: "The importance of potassium in managing hypertension."

Harvard Health Publishing: "5 foods to eat to help your heart."

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: "Heart-Healthy Foods: Shopping List."

Nutrient research: "Green tea extract reduces blood pressure, inflammatory biomarkers, and oxidative stress and improves parameters associated with insulin resistance in obese, hypertensive patients."

Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences: "Effects of Allium sativum (garlic) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension."