8 foods for heart health

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How are you celebrating? With your significant other? With friends? With chocolate? I’m having a movie night with friends, and I’m thinking chocolate is definitely going to be involved!

I’m also celebrating by writing this post about heart healthy nutrition, since it is Heart Month after all. So today’s post is all about foods for heart health!

1. Fish

Fish are a fantastic source of a special type of omega-3 fats known as DHA and EPA, which decrease your blood triglycerides and increase your HDL (your good cholesterol). They also reduce blood clots and can inhibit inflammation and plaque formation in your arteries (1).

8 foods for heart health

2. Olive oil

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the heart benefits of following a Mediterranean diet, and this is because it’s high in monounsaturated fats from olive oil and other foods. When you replace the saturated fats in your diet with these these healthy fats, they decrease your LDL (your bad cholesterol) (2). Monounsaturated fats also decrease blood pressure and decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (3).

3. Oats

There’s a reason I love oatmeal other than it’s taste! Oats contain soluble fibre, which forms a gel and traps bile acids (which are made from cholesterol) in your GI tract. This has the effect of lowering your total blood cholesterol (4).

8 foods for heart health

4. Bell Peppers

Citrus fruit always gets the spotlight when it comes to sources of vitamin C, but bell peppers are an amazing source of this vitamin.  Just one cup of bell peppers gives you almost 200% of your daily needs! Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it helps to reduce oxidative stress in your body (5). This may decrease the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in your arteries, which is a factor contributing to heart disease.

8 foods for heart health

5. Lentils

Lentils are a great source of folate, which is important for the proper functioning of your veins and arteries. It may work by lowering high levels of blood homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart disease (6).

6. Tofu

Soy protein in high amounts of 25 g per day or more may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides (7).

7. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are very high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage in the body. Researchers haven’t been able to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin E intake and reduced heart disease, but people with diets high in vitamin E do have a lower risk of heart disease. Also studies in mice found that vitamin E inhibited plaque build up in arteries, which contributes to heart disease (8).

8. Chocolate (!)

That’s right – all those magazine and news articles about chocolate being heart healthy are telling the truth! Chocolate is high in flavonoids, which are a kind of antioxidant. They may also have other roles in the body like anti-inflammatory effects, lowering blood pressure, and reducing risk of clotting. Dark chocolate and cocoa are especially high in these compounds. Research shows that diets high in flavonoids are linked with lower heart disease mortality – so go ahead and enjoy your Valentine’s Day chocolate today!

8 foods for heart health

What are your favourite foods for heart health?

Are you doing anything for Valentine’s Day?

1. Narayan et al, Food Reviews International, 2006
2. Kris-Etherton et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999
3. Schwingshackl and Hoffmann, Nutrients, 2012
4. Theuwissen and Mensink, Physiology & Behaviour, 2008
5. Blomhoff, Current Opinion in Lipidology, 2005
6. Verhaar et al, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2002
7. Clarkson et al, The Journal of Nutrition, 2002
8. Saremi and Arora, American Journal of Therapeutics, 2010
9. Ding et al, Nutrition and Metabolism, 2006


Filed under nutrition

18 Responses to 8 foods for heart health

  1. hey lady. happy valentines to you too! a great and informative post as usual. i have to wait until saturday to go out with my boy – but i bet it will be worth it!

  2. Happy Valentines day Chelsea!Clearly chocolate has to go down as my favourite heart healthy food, but oatmeal and fish (I'm eating tons of salmon right now) are definitely high on the list as well.I have the day off of classes, so my day is going to involve a whole lot of relaxing. Eric and I are delaying our Valentine's until Saturday, when we're going for an all you can eat sushi dinner date. Can never go wrong with that!

  3. Happy Valentine's Day Chelsea! Chocolate is for sure my favorite heart healthy food :)

  4. Glad I eat all of these foods on a regular basis! Some of my favorites for sure!

  5. A healthy heart is a happy heart right :)! On a serious note, heart disease is so scary especially as so many of the symptoms aren't noticeable. If anything it's a silent killer! Some of my favorite heart-healthy foods are chocolate (duh), oats, avocado & salmon!

  6. Great post! I need to incorporate more lentils in my diet!

  7. mmm fish is my favorite but it tends to be expensive so my healthy food is usually tuna or eggs. both are some cheap great options

  8. Love your take on vday for this :) my fav heart healthy foods would have to be chocolate, oats and sunflower seeds, with fish every now and then!

  9. I think that I am doing pretty good with this list. I eat all of these foods except fish (but hey, I am a vegetarian after all!). I LOVE seeing chocolate on this list! ;)

  10. Happy Valentine's Day, Chelsea! I'll be celebrating my day pretty much in the same way as you – chocolate, friends, and chick flicks ;)And I'm happy to see that I'm showing my heart some pretty good lovin'. I eat almost all of the things on that list except for fish, but I think my chocolate consumption makes up for that ;)

  11. Great list for those heart healthy foods!Happy Valentine's Day! I'm with you on the single celebration with friends! Um, I've already consumed chocolate oops. Guess I got the party started a little early;)

  12. I love bell peppers, yum! Enjoy your Valentine's night & chocolate & the movie!! We're having a low-key kinda night, but ordering in some Chinese food (steamed chicken & veggies -sauce on the side). :)

  13. aaah yay I was looking forward to this post!! I think I eat most things on this list except bell peppers and lentils (aversion…I dunno why!), so I guess I'm good to go. And YES for chocolate haha!! I'm on my own tonight but the news I got earlier today was good enough for like…the next FIVE valentine's days lol!

  14. salmon is definitely my favourite ;) I hope you had a great night with your girls!!you're in today's HFF :) http://adashofmeg.com/2013/02/14/high-five-friday-53/

  15. You are such an awesome RD2b :D This is awesome because you didn't focus on the foods you always hear about and used some really recent research! What a great promotions for National Heart Month!

  16. Salmon is my fav! And oatmeal.

  17. Happy belated Valentine's Day, Chelsea! I hope you had a fun movie night with the girls! I did the same with my friends–we watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, drank wine, and did our hearts a favor by indulging in multiple types of chocolate. ;) I love and eat all of the foods on this list regularly, with one tiny exception: lentils. They turn my stomach wonky, which makes me sad because I love their flavor! I'm pretty sure that I more than make up for their absence by enjoying loads of salmon and chocolate, though. :)Have a wonderful weekend, darlin! <3 xoxoxo

  18. Ahhh, your bowls of oatmeal always look so fluffy and delicious! Did you know that when I google stuff for my blog, half of the pics that come up in the search are bowls of your oats? Love it!LOVE this post! You always seem to make informative posts so much fun…and I never knew that about the sunflower seeds! Guess it's a good thing I loaded up last weekend when the man-friend took me to Ruby Tuesdays…I totally demolished that all you can eat salad bar! Next time I show up, they may start charging by the plate! Lol

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