How To Keep The Heart Healthy – Healthy Foods

The heart plays a critical role in keeping you healthy, but only few know about how to keep the heart healthy that will keep the doctor away. While many of us worry about heart health, there are an incredible number of facts we don’t know.

In this article, we explore some of the most interesting and important heart health facts that you need to know to keep your ticker in tip-top shape, and discuss foods that will keep your heart healthy.

Let’s get started!

Heart Health Facts

FACT Heart Disease Does Not Only Happen to Older People

Senior couples at a picnic table

This is very much an old wives tale that only older people tend to have heart disease! Although the risk for some heart problems increase with aging, heart conditions can affect anyone, no matter how old they are.

Some heart problems are already present at birth, and may be diagnosed shortly after a baby is born or when they cause symptoms.

Heart conditions can happen at any age and many of them may be caused by poor lifestyle choices made when younger.

A key fact about heart health is that by the time most people reach age 80, there’s a 60 % likelihood that they will have high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease.

This is why it is important for older adults to go for regular check ups with their doctor.

FACT – Fatigue and Shortness of Breath Are NOT Normal Signs of Aging – Heart Health Facts

Many attribute fatigue and shortness of breath to normal aging. Unfortunately, this is a myth!

Your body changes as you age, so certain symptoms you may experience should be quickly discussed with your doctor as they could be early signs of heart and vascular problems. These are much easier to treat if caught early.

Man Experiencing Chest Pain
Man Experiencing Chest Pain

These include some of those “normal signs of aging” you may experience aside from chest pain

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Regular fatigue and frequent bouts of dizziness
  • Rapid gain in weight
  • Leg pain when walking
  • Swelling in your feet or ankles, and of course,
  • Chest pain

FACT – Men Do NOT Have A Higher Risk For Heart Disease

Too many believe that men have a higher likelihood of heart disease, while the greatest health risk for women is breast cancer. It is a fact that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.

FACT – Heart Disease DOES NOT Always Present Symptoms

It is a general misconception that heart disease always cause symptoms such as frequent sharp pain in the chest. This is untrue.

Two major risk factors for heart disease – High blood pressure and high cholesterol present no symptoms. In many cases, you only learn about these conditions AFTER having a heart attack or stroke.

FACT – Heart Disease Symptoms Are NOT Similar For Men and Women

Heart attack symptoms are different in men and women. It is therefore necessary to know what to look out for, understand your personal risk factors and, make heart-healthy choices not only in diet, but in lifestyle.

FACT – Diabetes is A Major Risk Factor for Heart Disease

It is a misconception to believe that as long as you are faithfully taking your diabetic medication, you are safe from developing heart disease.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, so it’s important to control it with medicines and healthy lifestyle choices. in fact, people with diabetes and those who develop heart disease share common risk factors, like high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, and smoking.

FACT – There is No Need to Be Resigned to Fate Because Heart Disease Runs in The Family

Another heart disease myth is that if it runs in the family, there’ is nothing you can do to prevent it. Untrue!

You can take control by learning about your risk factors, making healthy choices, and getting regular checkups to catch problems early.

FACT – Being Physically Fit Does Not Make it Impossible to Have Heart Disease

Knowing your family history and keeping regular appointments with your doctor is an important part of overall health. Your doctor can recommend heart screenings that will help you keep an eye on these types of risk factors.

While getting regular physical activity can help lower your risk of heart disease, it’s still possible for you to develop a heart problem. Some conditions, like high cholesterol and heart muscle disease, can be passed down in families, so no matter how fit you are, you may be at risk.

Heart Rate
Heart Health

Other Facts – How To Keep The Heart Healthy

Coronary Artery Disease

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which leads to heart attacks.

CAD occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries which bring blood to the heart muscle), causing them to harden and narrow. In 2020 it caused the death of 382,820 people in the United States alone.

Additional US statistics also demonstrate that

  • About 20.1 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 7.2%).
  • In 2020, about 2 in 10 deaths from CAD occurred in adults less than 65 years old.

Risk factors for heart disease – How to keep the heart healthy

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

Let us discuss these factors in some detail.

Be Aware of Your Family History

Knowing your family history regarding cardiovascular issues can be incredibly beneficial in understanding what risk factors affect you personally. Awareness is half the battle!

Discussing your family history with your doctor helps them develop a management plan suited for you to prevent potential risks associated with certain diseases or conditions.

Physical Inactivity and Unhealthy Eating Habits

A lack of physical activity or exercise is apparently just as bad for you as smoking! Even if you don’t smoke, your risk of developing heart disease increases if you are not exercising your body, including your heart and lungs.

If you now throw unhealthy eating habits into the mix, then it is easy to become overweight or even become obese.

Many make excuses for their poor eating habits – lack of time, convenience, expense, and even about “not knowing better”.

Of course it is expedient to pick up food from the drive through, or even buy those tantalizing processed “ready to eat” foods as you wander through the shopping aisle.

Keep in mind that processed foods are not good for you because of the high salt or sugar content.

It is better to have a healthy eating plan to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Eating nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats will help keep your body strong and arteries clear.

Clogging in the Arteries

Unhealthy eating habits will make you a candidate for clogged arteries. The human arteries are actually quite small! The average artery measures only 4 millimeters wide, and as tiny as they are, they help deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies.

They are also essential for keeping us alive and healthy, so it is important to take care of them by exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods.

Sitting For Long Periods of Time

Not surprisingly, scientists have observed that the length of time you spend sitting during the day is a factor that increases the risk of heart disease.

That means whether you exercise regularly or eat healthy, sitting too much can itself be a hazard to your health. Our bodies were made to get up and move around so standing and stretching throughout the day will give your heart a much-needed break!

Take regular breaks to stand and stretch every 20 – 30 minutes, from sitting at your desk or couch from watching television, to get some physical activity throughout the day. This can help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Smoking Causes Harm to The Heart

Any amount of smoking potentially harms the heart, even if it is only one cigarette on those rare occasions. This is because smoking narrows the arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow throughout your body.

The result is an increased risk of developing serious medical conditions such as stroke and heart attack. Quit smoking and you will begin to see an improvement in your overall health.

Belly Fat is Dangerous to Heart Health

Get rid of belly fat!!!

Where we carry our weight affects our overall health when it comes to our hearts.

Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it indicates a body metabolic index (BMI) linked to all types of cardiovascular problems, including stroke and high blood pressure.

Keeping a healthy BMI through diet and exercise is very important! 

Stress Can Be An Unwanted Trigger

It is well-documented that stress can have negative implications on overall health but it can be especially dangerous to the heart.

Stress can cause blood pressure to rise, leading to other serious cardiovascular conditions such as high blood sugar levels and stiffening of arteries.

Taking steps to manage stress with activities such as yoga or meditation will significantly prevent long-term damage.

Because stress is a silent killer as it does not typically present unique symptoms, it is a good idea to regularly monitor your blood pressure. There are simple home monitors available that you can use for this

How To Keep The Heart Healthy

Many factors contribute to cardiovascular disorders, with diet and unhealthy foods being one of them. Healthy eating is synonymous with a healthy heart.

Food serves as fuel for your heart, and good quality fuel will keep your heart healthy and active. Keep in mind that whatever you consume, affects your cardiovascular system.

Heart diseases are the leading cause of death among people, and in the United States, one person dies every 34 seconds from the disease (CDC 2019).

There are many things you can do to promote heart health. Diet is one of them. Let’s explore the benefits of a diet based on “foods that keep your heart healthy”

Avoid These Foods As Much As You Can

Try to avoid as many of the foods listed below as much as you can. Believe me, it can be a challenge, but the occasional indulgence is not the end of the world! After all, we are all human…..

Platter of Deli Meat Cuts
Platter of Deli Meat Cuts

As a rule of thumb, avoid processed products. Do not focus on macronutrients. Even when they are at recommended levels for fat, carbohydrates and protein, a diet can still fall short on nutrition.

Check to see whether the carbohydrate sources are highly-processed or low in fiber. Is the protein content lean? Is the fat heart-healthy? (Taylor 2022).

Here are 12 examples of foods to avoid (Taylor 2022). There are many more. We discuss each in greater detail and debunk some of the myths in a future article.

  • Processed deli meats – Your sandwiches can do without them because of their high sodium content
  • Reduced fat salad dressings
  • Fat free peanut butter
  • Fat free packaged snacks
  • Flavored milk alternatives
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Fruit flavored yoghurt
  • Ketchup
  • Energy bars bought from stores
  • White bread
  • Pizza
  • Diet soda
Hearts Filled With Heart Healthy Foods
Heart Healthy Foods

Foods That Keep Your Heart Healthy

The relatively short list of to things to avoid provided above already seem to throw a dent into your current dietary habits. You then wonder about what you should be eating….

ALWAYS read the label on everything you buy, Vegetable and fruits do not have them, but practically all foods have them.

Avoiding high sugars (carbohydrates), high sodium content, high fats – trans will boost your healthy heart eating habits.

Here are 7 foods you should incorporate into your diet for heart health.

Leafy and Green Vegetables

Leafy Vegetables
Leafy Vegetables

Green vegetables are a power bank of nitrates. Spinach, broccoli, and kale are some types of leafy green vegetables. Every day, one bowl of nitrate-rich vegetables will have a healthy effect on your cardiovascular system. 

What Helps Your Heart Stay Healthy? – Nitrates

Nitrates are vasodilators. Vasodilators promote proper blood flow by widening the blood vessels and supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

While some people do not like leafy and green vegetables, if you want to improve the health of your heart, try to include these nutrient-rich foods in your diet.

Another benefit of leafy green vegetables is vitamin K. All green vegetables contain a good amount of vitamin K. Vitamins are important for heart structure.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K, also known as phylloquinone plays an important role in blood coagulation. To heal cuts and wounds, the body needs blood clots to stop bleeding.

A deficiency of vitamin K can cause hemorrhage, osteoporosis, and bone disorders.

Whole Grains

Whole grains should be eaten instead of refined grains along with plenty of vegetables and fruit. They provide huge health benefits.

Different Kinds of Whole Grains
Whole Grains

There are 3 beneficial nutrients:

  • Bran
  • Germ
  • Endosperm

Whole grains are also a full package of minerals and vitamins.

Studies demonstrate that eating three servings of whole grains each day provide 30% more protection for the heart in people who do so than people who do not consume it (Heart Foundation-NZ). This is great news for whole-grain users!

Whole grains and processed grains provide opposite benefits. While whole grains improve heart health then processed ones are a cause of cardiovascular disorders.

When grains are processed, bran and germ are removed. In this way, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants associated with them, are stripped away.

Therefore, we cannot ignore whole grains while talking about foods that keep your heart healthy.



Everybody loves berries! Along with their sweet and tangy flavor, berries play an important role in heart health.

Berries are rich in antioxidants and are a source of phytonutrients(plant-based chemical compounds). According to statistics, three servings of strawberries and blueberries per day can decrease heart stroke by 30%.

An imbalance of molecules and antioxidants creates oxidative stress in our bodies. It leads to cell and tissue damage. Intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants reduces oxidative stress and casts a positive impact on our bodies.

So from now on, do not just consume berries for taste, consider them foods that keep your heart healthy.


Uncooked Salmon Cuts on a Plate

Fish is healthy food for your heart. Fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna are rich in omega-3. Eating fish twice a week reduces the risk of heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids. We all know that unsaturated fatty acids are good fats. They improve blood cholesterol, ease inflammation and stabilize heart rates.

Moreover, omega-3 improves your blood pressure, reduces blood clotting, and manages heart rates.

Unlike red meats, fish is a good addition to your diet for heart health.



Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews not only sharpen your brain but also improve your heart health.

Nuts contain many healthy nutrients and unsaturated fatty acids. They decrease levels of unhealthy cholesterol such as trans fats or saturated fatty acids. Their intake reduces blood pressure, and the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

Different nuts have different healthy compounds. Such as in omega-3, unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, L-arginine, and plant sterols.

To maintain a healthy diet, it’s prescribed to consume a small handful of nuts daily. Because they are so tasty, try not overdo the quantity due to added calories.


Beans are also known as legumes. Unlike red meat, they are an important source of protein without fats. You can enjoy beans with salad, bread, and rice or they are even great to eat alone.

Kidney Beans
Kidney beans

Beans are rich in fiber and protein. They play an important role in a heart-healthy diet. Intake of legumes in your daily meals improves blood cholesterol which is the main cause of heart disease.

High blood pressure can cause heart attacks. To lower blood pressure, start consuming beans. They are rich in fiber and minerals and are also high in potassium and low in sodium. Therefore, beans are foods good for heart health.


Tomatoes are among the common vegetables used daily in cooking. It is considered healthy food that makes your heart happy.

Tomatoes are rich in nutrients, fiber and low in calories. Along with that, they have many other healthy compounds such as:

Fresh Tomatoes on a Table
  • Lycopene
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A, B, C, and E

Lycopene is a compound that gives tomatoes their red color. It is an antioxidant that keeps cells alive and reduces oxidative stress. Moreover, it reduces clotting which can cause heart diseases.

Potassium helps remove excessive sodium out of our body to normalize blood pressure. Moreover, it reduces pressure on blood vessels.

Tomatoes are among the foods that keep your heart healthy. So, make this common vegetable an important part of your diet.


Eating foods that keep your heart healthy ensure that this important organ of the body functions properly.

Many other body functions are associated with the heart, so adopting a healthy diet is not only good for heart health, but an all round diet.

As you grow older regular monitoring of blood pressure helps catch early signs of heart or other problems that can be more easily managed.

Along with a healthy diet, the use of easy heart rate monitoring home kits and various heart rate monitoring devices ensure that you are in charge of your own health!


[1] CDC. (2019). Heart Disease Facts | Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

[2] Why are whole grains good for you? (n.d.). Retrieved from Heart Foundation NZ website:

[3] 15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods. (2018, March 5). Retrieved from Healthline website:

[4] 5 Heart-Healthy Beans and the Best Ways to Eat Them. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from website:

[5] How eating fish helps your heart. (n.d.). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website:

[6] How do nuts help your heart health? (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from Mayo Clinic website:

[7] Taylor MG (2022)How to Start Counting Macros for Weight Loss, According to Dietitians



[10] UPMC Health Beat (2017) Heart and Vascular Health: Myths and Facts About Heart Disease


[12] Women and Heart Diseases: Know the Symptoms | UPMC HealthBeat

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