Six foods to add to your diet to improve heart health

Heart Health, Nutrition
Feb 14, 2023

There are many factors that contribute to your heart’s health. Some you can’t control – age, gender, family history and ethnicity – and some you can.

“Some of the best things people can do to help with heart health in general are lose weight, stop smoking and exercise regularly,” advises Dr. Michael Chisner, cardiologist and electrophysiologist with Cardiology Associates of Savannah and the Advanced Heart Rhythm Center at St. Joseph’s/Candler.

A healthy diet is vital in the fight against heart disease. Sure you eat fruits and vegetables, but there are other foods you can add to your diet to improve your heart’s health.

Here are six foods to add to your diet to improve your heart health:

  1. Oatmeal. Full of both soluble and insoluble fiber, oatmeal is a great way to start your day. Soluble fiber has been proven to lower your cholesterol because it helps clear your arteries of excess cholesterol. Insoluble fiber keeps our GI tract healthy allowing healthy bacteria to live, which can help your heart.
  2. Avocado, olive oil and other unsaturated fats. Yes, there are some fats that are good for you – unsaturated fats. Examples include avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts, certain fish, such as salmon, blueberries and tomatoes.
  3. Almonds and Walnuts.Not all nuts are created equal. Almonds and walnuts are recommended over peanuts because of the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat. Additionally, try almond or cashew milk over cow’s milk and nut butters rather than dairy butters.
  4. Fatty Fish. Certain fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and anchovy, are great sources of heart-friendly omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that your body doesn’t make but needs to function properly. They can decrease the risk of arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure. Walnuts, flaxseed and canola and soybean oils are other good examples of omega-3.
  5. Lean meats.Choose lean meats, such as turkey and skinless chicken. They have less saturated fat than fatty meats, such as bacon, sausage and ground beef. Fat is a significant heart irritant and can be a major factor in atrial fibrillation.
  6. Whole grains. Whole grains also are high in soluble and insoluble fiber. Opt for whole grain rice and bread over white rice and bread. Other examples you may not have thought of include quinoa, millet, farro, barley, lentils and other grains.

Want to do even more? Avoid these six foods to also increase your heart’s health:

  1. Fried and fast foods
  2. Some beef, pork and other fatty proteins
  3. Cheese and other high-fat dairy products
  4. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
  5. Salt
  6. Alcohol  

How can we help you?