The heart is where love lives. Love your heart by eating heart-smart foods! 

  1. Fresh Herbs

Herbs like Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Oregano can be planted in a kitchen garden at home. When you add these to foods instead of salt and fat, you’re making a heart-healthy choice. They add flavor without adding the harmful stuff. 

2. Black Beans

They contain folate, antioxidants, and magnesium that can help lower blood pressure. Their fiber helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Add beans to boost soups and salads.

3. Salmon

A super food for the heart, it is rich in omega-3s. Omega-3s are healthy fats that may lessen the risk of heart rhythm disorders and lower blood pressure. They are also known to lower triglycerides and curb inflammation. 

4. Tuna

Tuna also has omega-3s. Albacore (white tuna) has more omega-3s than other tuna varieties. Try grilling tuna steak with lemon and herbs. Remember to buy tuna packed in water , not oil. 

5. Olive Oil

This healthy-fat oil is made from cold pressed olives. It is rich in antioxidants which protect your blood vessels. When olive oil replaces saturated fat (like butter and ghee), it can help lower cholesterol levels. Try it on salads and cooked veggies, or with bread. For cooking use the pomace olive oil and extra virgin only for salad dressings etc. 

6. Walnuts

A small fistful of walnuts a day can lower your cholesterol. It also protects against inflammation in your heart’s arteries. Walnuts are packed with omega-3s, healthy fats called monounsaturated fats, plant sterols, and fiber. Let walnuts replace other unhealthy snacks like chips and cookies. 

7. Almonds 

Almonds have  plant sterols, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. Almonds help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Grab a small handful a day.

8. Oranges

Oranges have the cholesterol-fighting fiber pectin. They also have potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Two cups of orange juice a day helps boost blood vessel health. It also helps lower blood pressure.

9. Barley

Try this nutty whole grain in place of rice. You can also simmer barley into soups and broths. The fiber in barley can help lower cholesterol levels. It lowers blood sugar levels too. Hulled or “whole grain” barley is the most nutritious.

10. Oatmeal

A warm bowl of oatmeal at breakfast fills you up for hours, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable over time. Oats fiber can help your heart by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). Best results come from using steel cut or slow cooked oats.

11. Flaxseed 

These honey-colored seeds contain three things that are good for your heart: fiber, phytochemicals called lignans, and omega-3 fatty acids. Grind flaxseeds for the best nutrition. Add it to cereal, baked goods, or yogurt. 

12. Low Fat Yogurt

Dairy foods can help control high blood pressure, too. Yogurt is high in calcium and potassium. To really boost the calcium and minimize the fat, choose low-fat varieties.

13. Sterol-fortified Foods

Soy milk, almond milk, and orange juice have cholesterol-fighting sterols and stanols added. These plant extracts block your intestines from soaking up cholesterol. They can lower LDL levels by 10% without interfering with good cholesterol.

14. Cherries and Berries 

Sweet cherries, sour cherries, dried cherries, and cherry juice, they’re all good. All are packed with an antioxidants called anthocyanin. They’re believed to help protect blood vessels. Blueberries and cranberries are also super foods for heart health. Blueberries contain the antioxidant called anthocyanin. 

Sadia Salman is a certified nutritionist from Tufts University, USA and the CEO of Diet by Design. She has over 7 years of experience in treating patients with various health issues through food both in Pakistan and in Canada. Most of her work is on managing diseases like hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes etc through weight management. She believes in building a healthy community by educating the masses in any capacity that she can. Her health blogs are a part of her awareness campaign.

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