12 Foods to Help Protect Your Heart - Performance Kitchen

Eating for a healthy heart means filling your plate with heart-healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, increasing fiber intake, eating fish a few times a week, and eating healthy fats, while limiting unhealthy fats like trans fats, as well as salt. There are also certain foods that have been shown to improve your heart health.

Boost your heart health with our Heart Health Meal Plan, featuring items containing fewer than 600mg sodium and less than 10% of saturated fat. These meals emphasize foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and limits processed foods that are high in sugar and sodium.  

Treat your kitchen as your “medicine cabinet” and fill it with a variety of heart healthy foods. Find out how these 12 foods may help lower your risk of heart disease.


The U.S Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting saturated fats and having the majority of your fat intake be from unsaturated fats. One serving of almonds (28 grams, or about 23 almonds) has 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat.


Your morning cup of Joe has heart health benefits. Consumed in moderation, it may even be protective. Benefits are usually attributed to coffee’s high concentration of polyphenols—antioxidant nutrients that can help offset inflammatory mediators in the blood and protect against all types of diseases, including heart disease. 

Green Tea

Not only coffee drinker get heart health benefits from their warm beverage. A warm cup of green tea contains catechin and falvonoids, which are antioxidants with cardiovascular benefits, including reducing risk of blot clots.


Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerosis (when fatty substances form a deposit of plaque on the inner lining of arterial walls). Choose to consume ground flaxseeds, as your body is able to digest and absorb its nutrients.


Fatty fish, like salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease.


Popeye was onto something – eat your spinach! The rich, dark color of spinach comes from the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.

Whole grain

New research suggests that patients taking statins (cholesterol lowering medication) should also consider eating more whole grains for best results. Whole grains contain the entire grain – the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran contains soluble fiber. The science behind how soluble fiber helps manage cholesterol is how it is digested. Soluble fiber and cholesterol from foods reach the stomach and travel to the small intestine. Cholesterol also reaches the small intestine from the blood. Soluble fiber forms a gel, which binds some cholesterol in the small intestine and takes it out of the body.


Don’t bypass the cauliflower because it’s not a bright color like other produce. Cauliflower is bursting with antioxidants, is high in fiber, and contains allicin, a component of garlic, which may help lower the risk of heart attacks and reduce cholesterol.


Avocados are known for their heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, but also should be highlighted for the potassium they contribute. Potassium works with sodium to maintain the volume of blood in circulation steady. More sodium in the body means more water, more blood volume and higher blood pressure. Consuming more potassium helps flush sodium out of our systems, lowering blood pressure.
Fifty grams of avocado (1/3 of a medium avocado) provides 250 g of potassium or 6% of the recommended Daily Value (DV).

Wild Blueberries

While cultivated blueberries are packed with antioxidants, wild blueberries have double the amount. Let color be your guide. The darker the color the more nutrient dense a food is. When you cut a cultivated blueberry in half it’s a greenish, opaque color inside. When you slice a wild blueberry in half it is deep blue/purple throughout. Antioxidants help our bodies protect against age-related health risks. Every day, our cells battle against free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules that are a normal byproduct of metabolism. When you aren’t getting enough antioxidants in your diet, free radicals can build up in your body, causing oxidative stress, which is associated with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases of aging.


The antioxidants present in beets, including carotenoids and flavonoids, can limit the harm that too much cholesterol in the blood can cause. Through helping prevent LDL or “bad” cholesterol from being oxidized, antioxidants help prevent the build up of harmful, artery-clogging plaque.


Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of soluble fiber – the kind of fiber that can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Dried or canned beans, both are providing heart-health benefits. If you are purchasing canned beans, look for the low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties.

The best tip is to stock your kitchen to protect your heart. Don’t stick to the same few foods. The secret is in varying the types of fish, vegetables, whole grains, and other items you enjoy every day.