We all understand the importance of a healthy heart. It pumps the life-giving blood and oxygen we need throughout the body. But the heart needs help to stay in tip-top shape. Loading up on healthy and nutritious foods is one of the best strategies for maintaining a healthy heart and reducing your risk for heart disease—the leading cause of death in the United States.
To help you on your way to a healthier heart we’re sharing must-have heart-healthy food tips. Plus check out these nine easy and nutritious recipes—perfect for welcoming this warm summer weather we’ve been experiencing—and also to get ready for spring and summer ahead!
It’s important to take care of your heart, but what foods are heart-healthy? And which ones should you avoid? Here are all the heart-healthy tips you need to know:
- Load up on fruits and veggies: Low in calories and high in fiber, these foods are essential for your heart health. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals. Plus, the more fruits and veggies you eat, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for unhealthy fats, added sugars, and processed foods that hurt instead of help your heart health.
- Get your whole grains: Load up on whole grains like 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, bulgur, barley, and oats. They’re packed with fiber and other nutrients that help regulate your blood pressure and heart health.
- Opt for healthy fats: Not all fat is bad for you! Limit your saturated and trans fat intake while increasing your healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This comes from foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
- Go meatless: Most Americans get too much of their protein from unhealthy meat sources like ground beef and fatty deli meat slices. These can clog up your arteries and raise your cholesterol levels. But you don’t need to go vegetarian to promote better heart health. Opt for plant-based protein sources, eggs, lean meat, or fish as often as you can.
- Limit your sodium: A high-salt diet can raise your blood pressure levels, a huge risk factor for heart disease. So go easy on that salt shaker and look for low-sodium options (especially with prepared foods like soups or frozen meals).
- Eat more fiber: Most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough fiber in their diets. Yet fiber is crucial for a healthy heart. Fiber helps your body digest and absorb nutrients. Fiber also helps control your blood sugar and reduce your unhealthy cholesterol levels. High-fiber foods include fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Cut down on added sugars: High levels of added sugar in your diet can negatively affect your heart health. This doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a cookie again, but be mindful of what foods have added sugars and try to limit your intake or opt for healthy sugar substitutes instead.
9 Heart-Healthy Recipes
Now that you know some crucial tips and tricks to a healthy heart, here are some recipes to help keep you on track! These feature heart-healthy ingredients like dietary fiber, whole grains, fruits, veggies, omega-3 fats, and more. And just as importantly, they’re delicious!
1. Strawberry Black Bean Salad
Image source: Faith Gorsky, An Edible Mosaic
If you don’t know how well strawberries and black beans go together, then now’s your time to find out. Try this sweet and savory salad that’s perfect for the summer sunshine. This salad features a heart-healthy and delicious mix of strawberries, black beans, spinach, walnuts, goat cheese, and more topped with balsamic vinegar.
The beans, berries, nuts, and spinach contain lots of fiber, a heart-healthy carbohydrate that helps maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This salad is also bursting with nutrients like B-complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, along with heart-supporting fats like omega-3 fatty acids.
But perhaps best of all is that this hearty and healthy salad takes less than 10 minutes to make. So in no time, you’ll be supporting your heart health while enjoying a fresh burst of summertime flavor.
Get this Strawberry Black Bean Salad here.
2. One Pan Meal: Salmon and Vegetables
Image source: The Roasted Root
Load up on heart-healthy nutrients in this easy-to-make recipe that’s perfect for summer meal prepping. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can help lower your triglyceride or blood fat levels, protect your arteries, and reduce your blood pressure. Salmon, and other fatty fish, are so good for your heart that the American Heart Association recommends you get at least two servings of omega-3 rich foods a week.
Along with healthy fats, this recipe also includes a rainbow of nutrition, with carrots, broccoli, asparagus, and red bell peppers. These heart-healthy veggies contain nutrients like folate, calcium, potassium, fiber, B-complex vitamins, and carotenoids (like beta-carotene and lutein) that could help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
And, with warmer weather outside, you could skip the oven and opt to throw these on the grill for a healthy and delicious summertime lunch or dinner. Plus this recipe is paleo, Keto, and Whole30 compliant, making it the perfect dish no matter the diet.
Get this One Pan Salmon and Vegetable recipe here.
3. Summer Fruit Salad
Image source: Love and Lemons
This might be the easiest, yummiest, and heart-healthiest recipe you’ll ever make. Plus, it’s the perfect spring or summertime snack, with fresh fruit and bright colors. While this recipe features berries, peaches, fresh basil, and a zingy ginger dressing, feel free to pick and choose your favorite fruits to make your own.
But no matter what you choose, it’s going to be heart-healthy because all fruits offer a diverse array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So by combining multiple fruits in one recipe, you increase the nutritional value while getting a refreshingly sweet “treat”.
Get this Summer Fruit Salad recipe here.
4. Flaxseed and Blueberry Oatmeal
Image source: Little Broken
Start your day on a heart-healthy note with this filling and delicious bowl of hot blueberry oatmeal with flaxseed. Top it with fresh fruit, your nut of choice, and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey for a hearty and nutritious breakfast.
Flaxseed is a heart-healthy choice because it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, soluble and insoluble fiber, and antioxidants like lignans. These nutrients help keep you feeling full for longer while helping to lower your unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Oatmeal is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids along with magnesium, potassium, iron, and fiber. Nuts and berries, loaded with fiber and healthy nutrients, also support a healthy heart. So arguably, there’s no better meal to start your day and fuel your heart than a hearty bowl of oatmeal.
5. Tuna Egg Salad
Image source: Wholesome Yum
Skip the high saturated fat deli meat sandwich and go for a high protein and healthy fat tuna egg salad sandwich instead. Loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and protein, this recipe is sure to satisfy while providing the fuel you need to power through your day.
Both eggs and fish are great heart-healthy protein sources. They feature healthy fats and vitamins and minerals like selenium, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. With this recipe, all it takes is 10 minutes and you’ve got a low-carb and flavor-packed lunch sandwich on your hands. Ingredients include celery, pickles, paprika, dijon mustard, onion, and more but you can easily swap out for other ingredients if you’d like.
Get this Tuna Egg Salad recipe here.
6. Heart-Healthy Trail Mix
Image source: Healthy Maven
This heart-healthy trail mix is the perfect snack for your next hike or outdoor adventure. What makes a homemade trail mix better than a store-bought one? You can add the nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and extra toppings that you like best. Plus, store-bought trail mix is often high in sodium, and too much salt can increase your risk of heart disease.
By making it yourself, you can load up on heart-healthy ingredients like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, or dark chocolate bites—while limiting your salt intake—for a nutritious snack on the go. Nuts and seeds contain nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, folate, iron, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. All part of a heart-healthy diet!
Get this Heart-Healthy Trail Mix recipe here.
7. Grilled Papaya
Image source: Turning the Clock Back
It’s time to bust out your grilling skills for the ultimate heart-healthy spring or summer dessert: grilled fruit! And don’t underestimate this option, as fruit is delicious on the grill. Top it with a light glaze or a small dusting of sugar and you’ll quickly be satisfying your sweet tooth while loading up on heart-healthy fiber and nutrients.
Fruits like papaya, pineapple, watermelon, peaches, and figs are some of the best for grilling. Papaya is especially good for the grill and your heart, with nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and potassium. Plus it contains powerful antioxidants including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and lutein. So next time you grill up a meal, make sure to buy some fruit and add it to the open flame for an extra tasty treat.
8. Easy Black Bean Burger
Image source: Love and Lemons
Next, treat your heart to some fiber-loaded legumes, like this super-easy black bean burger recipe. Unlike high saturated fat ground beef, this burger offers that charred, smoky flavor you know and love while fueling your heart with the nutrition it needs.
To maintain a heart-healthy diet, you want to limit your red meat intake to no more than once a week and opt for plant-based protein whenever you can. So, having healthy and delicious alternatives like this recipe is a must. Ingredients include black beans, onion, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, balsamic vinegar, tamari, panko bread crumbs, and an egg to hold it all together. Mash together and cook on the grill for the ultimate summertime heart-healthy meal.
Get this Black Bean Burger recipe here.
9. Bulgur and Avocado Cups
Image source: Italicana Kitchen
Finally, if you’ve never tried bulgur, then get ready for your taste buds to fall in love! This hearty and delicious grain has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. And unlike other grains, it’s quick and easy to prepare. Whole grains like bulgur contain protein, fiber, and other nutrients that keep you feeling full while helping to regulate your blood pressure and support heart health.
Plus, add in the healthy fats from the avocado, and you’ve got yourself a tasty and heart-healthy dinner. And if bulgur isn’t for you, other whole grain alternatives like quinoa, brown rice, and barley are easy and healthy substitutes.
Get this Bulgur and Avocado Cup recipe here.
We hope you enjoyed these tips and recipes for a healthy heart, as part of a clean dietary plan supporting optimal wellness and vitality. Looking to support your health and weight loss goals? Try adding these heart-healthy foods to your next high-fiber meal replacement shake, using some of the best meal replacement shake powders available right now!