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Heart Attack Prevention Diet: Heart-Healthy Foods To Eat Everyday

Written by Reshma Pathare on Tue, 01 August 2023 — Fact checked by Dr. Sintayehu Abebe

Key Highlights

  • Eating more heart-healthy fresh foods, and less foods with high amounts of salt and trans fats, could save tens of thousands of lives.
  • Fill up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as also the good fats that lower cholesterol.
  • When taken in moderation, even ‘indulgence’ foods like dark chocolate and red wine have significant heart-healthy properties.
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The American Heart Association noted in 2017 that unhealthy diets were linked to more than 400,000 cardiovascular deaths in a single year in the United States alone. Eating more heart-healthy foods, and less of the foods with high amounts of salt and trans fats, could save tens of thousands of lives around the world.

Fruits and vegetables maintaining heart health

In fact, numerous studies have — and frequently do — highlight the stellar role of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, in maintaining heart health and lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.

Eat Colors for better heart health

So, let’s see what the best diet for heart health looks like.

A for Apple and Avocado

Apples

  • Pectin in apples lowers LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  • A 2020 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating two whole apples daily can lower blood cholesterol, helping to prevent a heart attack or a stroke.
  • Compounds in the whole fruit, particularly fiber, could have a promising role in promoting heart health.

A for avocado

  • Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamins E and B, and fiber.
  • They’re rich in natural beta-sitosterol, and the American Journal of Medicine has reported that beta-sitosterol is able to lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Folate, glutathione, and potassium in avocado help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.

B for Banana, Beans & Berries

Bananas

  • Bananas are rich in potassium, an essential ingredient in keeping the heart healthy.
  • Potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction and plays an important role in the normal rhythmic pumping of the heart. Some studies have also linked low potassium intake to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.

Beans (Mung)

  • They’re rich in folic acid, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and thiamine.
  • They’re also high in fiber, low in saturated fat, low in sodium, and contain no cholesterol. Because of this, they offer big benefits for the heart.

Beans (Black-eyed)

  • Black-eyed beans are rich in soluble fiber, which helps eliminate cholesterol from the body. They are a good source of folate, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and manganese.
  • They help reduce high blood pressure, are low in fat and, when combined with grains, supply high-quality protein. This makes the bean a very healthy alternative to animal protein sources, which are often high in saturated fats.

Berries

  • Several fruits of the berry family — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries — are high in flavonoids, antioxidant plant compounds that are associated with lower odds of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association lists them as superfoods.
  • Berries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Their phytonutrients, like anthocyanins, quercetin, and ellagic acid, have an antioxidant effect. They counter the natural oxidation in the body that contributes to damage to the arteries. Berries are known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

C for Chickpeas and Citrus fruits

Chickpeas

  • Chickpeas contain phytochemicals called saponins, which act as antioxidants. They help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Chickpeas also contain significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the level of amino acid and homocysteine, and strengthens the blood vessels.

Citrus fruits

  • Citrus fruits include oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits. Eating citrus fruits regularly can keep your heart healthy. Studies have shown that they prevent a rise in levels of oxidized LDL and also help to lower blood pressure.
  • Oranges are a good source of fiber and potassium, both of which can support heart health.

Chia seeds

  • Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are good for the heart and the bones.
  • The antioxidants in chia seeds include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. Besides helping the heart, they may also help prevent cancer.

D for dark chocolate

Dark chocolate

  • It gets its benefits from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Dark chocolate, with more than 70% cocoa, contains a large number of antioxidants.
  • Flavonoids help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide and balance certain hormones in the body. Therefore, dark chocolate is good for your heart.

F for flaxseeds

Flaxseed

  • Having flaxseed is associated with a reduction in total cholesterol, including LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, the official journal of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, notes that flaxseed is an alternative to marine products. It’s one of the richest sources of the plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid named alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Based on the results of clinical trials, epidemiological investigations, and experimental studies, ALA has been suggested to have a positive impact on cardiovascular disease.

G for green tea

Green tea

  • Green tea is rich in polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate, a powerful antioxidant. It has also been effective in lowering LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels and inhibiting the abnormal formation of blood clots.
  • This is important because thrombosis (the formation of blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.

H for hazelnuts

Hazelnuts

  • Hazelnuts are rich in Omega-3s and packed with antioxidants. These compounds are great for reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
  • The most abundant antioxidants in hazelnuts are known as phenolic compounds. They’re proven to help decrease LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and inflammation.
  • Hazelnuts also contain about 55% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. Magnesium helps keep blood vessels from constricting and improves blood flow. Therefore, eating hazelnuts can help to lower blood pressure.

K for Kale

Kale

  • The leafy green vegetable kale contains a number of nutrients that support heart health, including potassium, which maintains a healthy blood pressure.
  • According to the Cleveland Clinic, kale is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps fight the inflammation at the root of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. If you find the taste of kale strong, blend it with other greens, green apple, and pineapple.

L for Lentils

Lentils

  • Since lentils are high in soluble fiber, they help to reduce bad cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, lentils are low in sodium and saturated fat, and high in potassium, fiber, folate, and plant chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant properties.
  • Several studies have shown that lentils are also a good source of folate and magnesium, which improve heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

M for mushrooms

Mushrooms

  • Edible mushrooms have a great nutritional value, including high protein, essential amino acids, fiber, vitamins like B1, B2, B12, C, and D, minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, copper, iron, manganese, and selenium.
  • A 2021 study published in the American Journal of Medicine says: “Edible mushroom consumption may have favorable effects on lipid profiles by changing some metabolic markers such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Moreover, edible mushroom consumption is probably associated with reduced mean blood pressure.”

O for oatmeal, onions

Oatmeal

  • Oatmeal is a good source of heart-friendly Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • It’s loaded with beta-glucan fiber, a form of soluble fiber that’s linked to cutting LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, thus aiding heart health. It also has nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and iron.
  • Oatmeal is a great breakfast item; top it with fresh berries.

Onions

  • Onions are very healthy because they’re an excellent source of vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, and phytochemicals. Studies have shown that they may help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke.
  • Onions lower blood pressure and heart attack risk. Sulfur acts as a natural blood thinner and prevents blood platelets from clustering, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the quercetin in onions may also prevent plaque build-up in the arteries and improve blood flow to the heart.

P for pear & pomegranates

Pear

  • Pears are rich in beneficial flavonoids that support the heart by improving blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels.
  • A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found an association between pears and improved blood lipids in women, suggesting a diet rich in these plant compounds may have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

Pomegranate

  • Research shows that pomegranate juice protects the heart and arteries. The juice improves blood flow and keeps the arteries from becoming stiff and thick.
  • It may also slow the growth of plaque and build-up of cholesterol in the arteries. Drinking pomegranate juice daily may also help lower systolic blood pressure.
  • A comprehensive review published in the journal Pharmacological Research says that it would be beneficial for heart health to include pomegranate juice daily.

Q for Quinoa

Quinoa

  • The American Heart Association recommends eating at least three 1-ounce (28gm) equivalents of whole grains every single day.
  • A whole grain like quinoa helps fend off heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting plant chemicals like phytosterols. Its soluble fiber lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, all of which contribute to heart disease.
  • It’s rich in magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels, shortening the duration of migraine episodes and helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. In addition, it provides an alternative to animal sources of protein that may be replete with saturated fats and cholesterol, all bad for the heart.

HR for red wine

Red wine

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate consumption of red wine has long been thought of as heart-healthy.
  • Certain substances in red wine serve as antioxidants, helping prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.

S for spinach

Spinach

  • Spinach is a rich source of nitrates, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds that can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
  • Spinach can increase production, action, and function of nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide helps to dilate and widen blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.

T for Tofu

Tofu

  • Tofu is low in calories and contains no cholesterol.
  • A 2020 study published in the journal Circulation found that people who ate at least one weekly serving of tofu or another food containing isoflavones had an 18% lower risk of developing heart disease compared with those who ate these foods less than once a month.

W for Walnuts

Walnuts

  • Walnuts help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, two of the major risk factors for heart disease. They’re also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Research has found that Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein in those with high cholesterol.

Y for Yogurt

Yogurt

  • According to the Cleveland Clinic, yogurt has been linked to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Research shows that eating yogurt as part of a healthy diet can help prevent long-term weight gain, which is good for the heart.
  • Make sure it’s not artificially flavored and is sugar-free.

Z for Zucchini

Zucchini

  • This fruit of a herbaceous vine is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • It’s believed to lower blood sugar and blood pressure, prevent weight gain, and improve heart health, bone health, and eyesight.

Conclusion

Superior nutrition can minimize the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

It is therefore essential to reduce processed foods in your diet and replace them with heart healthy foods such as more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts. This can help you to slowly reduce, and to eventually cease, your dependence on heart medication.

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Reshma Pathare

Reshma Kulkarni-Pathare has been a self-employed media professional since 1999. Starting off as a Freelance Journalist for Times of India Thane Plus, Reshma went onto write for more than 45 national and international publications including Times of India, New Woman, Femina, Indian Express, The Hindu, BBC Good Homes and many more. While her forte has been lifestyle writing, she is equally proficient in writing health articles. Her health articles have been published in Health International (Dubai), New Woman, Femina, and Mother & Baby.

Apart from being a journalist, Reshma also works as a copy-editor for self-publishing houses and academic journals.

She is an award-winning bi-lingual translator with more than 12 books published in her name.

She has been a Visiting Faculty Member for post-graduate department of mass media at MET College (Mumbai) and Welingkar WeSchool (Mumbai).

She has worked as a Consumer Marketing Insights Researcher for global organizations like CEB Iconoculture (USA) and Gartner (USA).

Consolidating her multifarious skills in the media, in 2021, Reshma launched her own boutique media agency called Talking Turkey Communications, which specializes in content writing, editing, and translation.

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  19. Quinoa in a Heart Healthy Diet
  20. Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?
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Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Aug, 01 2023

Written By

Reshma Pathare

Fact checked By

Dr. Sintayehu Abebe