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By Kristen Carli, MS, RD

Best Foods for Heart Health

Did you know that on average, your heart beats about 2.5 billion times? According to Harvard Health, your heart plays a crucial role in circulating blood throughout your body, delivering vital nutrients and oxygen.1

It’s pretty easy to take every beat for granted and assume the heart will automatically do its thing. But the bottom line is that it’s tasked with a heavy workload and can use extra support from us! We’re not talking about anything too extreme. Simply being mindful of your lifestyle (daily diet, proper sleep, remaining active) can support a healthy heart.

So in light of Heart Month this February, let’s get into the best foods for heart health.

Best Foods for Heart Health

Let’s take a peek at our ultimate heart-healthy foods you can add to your grocery list, pronto!

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1. Whole Grains

Whole grains are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, which are important for heart health. Completely rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, a healthy dose of whole grains can make your heart sing! Here are some all-star whole grains to consider:

  • Oats: A versatile whole grain, are a good source of magnesium, an important mineral for heart health.
  • Quinoa: Also doubles as a ‘complete’ protein and is high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and various antioxidants.
  • Brown Rice: Choosing between white or brown rice? Go for brown! It can provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to white rice.
  • Farro: Also supporting your overall health, farro is a nutrient-dense whole grain that can provide fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. We love sprinkling farro onto a veggie salad!

2. Protein

According to the Heart Foundation, protein can be an excellent source of energy and vital to your heart.2 We’re talking about some of the following protein sub-categories:

  • Fresh seafood: Our go-to picks are juicy ahi tuna and wild salmon.
  • Lean poultry: Organic chicken thighs, chicken breast, or lean red meat can do the trick!
  • Low-fat dairy products: If you’re a fan of low-fat Greek yogurt, this makes a wonderful heart-healthy treat. Adding oats and berries on top can make it the ideal breakfast or afternoon snack.

We're excited to introduce our newest product, which is a great source of protein. Enter Suja’s NEW Protein Shakes, available at select Targets now. With three deliciously creamy flavors, you get 16g of plant-based protein and 20+ everyday essential vitamins and minerals in every bottle! Here’s the inside scoop on our flavorful lineup:

Vanilla Cinnamon:

Suja Vanilla Protein

If you can imagine the flavor profile of a “horchata” milkshake, our Vanilla Cinnamon protein drink checks that box! With one swig, you can detect ingredients like vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, and silky coconut cream.

Chocolate:

Suja Chocolate Protein

Calling all chocolate lovers! If you’re craving a luscious milkshake that’s also nutrient-rich, this should be your go-to protein drink to sip on.

Coffee Bean:

Suja Coffee Protein

Love the aromatics and taste of your morning cup of joe? Our coffee bean shake is velvety smooth and carries an irresistible coffee flavor.

3. Fruits and Vegetables

As many of our readers know, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that support heart health.

For fruits, we suggest a medley of berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, as well as oranges, apples, avocados, and bananas! When it comes to veggies, focus on incorporating leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers into your daily diet. Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet is a great way to ensure you're getting a wide range of nutrients.

4. Unsaturated Oils and Fats

With so many types of oils and butter lining supermarket shelves, it’s normal to feel confused about which type to opt for. Choosing unsaturated oils and fats over saturated ones can be beneficial for your heart. We suggest opting for olive, avocado, flaxseed, and walnut oil. For fats, you can hone in on nuts, seeds, and avocados!

5. Herbs and Spices

Instead of ‘enriching’ the flavor profile of your meal with a pinch of extra salt, think about opting for specific heart-friendly herbs and spices. Take garlic, for example, boasting a wealth of antioxidants your heart will love. Turmeric, renowned for its active compound curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties—a fantastic choice for heart health. Another standout in this category is cinnamon, containing a plethora of antioxidants to add both flavor and health-boosting benefits to your daily meals!

Foods You May Want to Avoid

With your heart health top of your mind, you might be thinking - what foods should I consider avoiding? Of course, we’ll never advocate a restrictive diet and prefer the “everything in moderation” mentality. But it may be helpful simply to be cognizant about foods that may not be on the top of our heart-friendly grocery list. Typically foods that contain added sugar, or excessive amounts of saturated fats and sodium might not be the best. Here are some items you may want to avoid or consume in moderation:

  • Processed meats: High in saturated and trans fats, processed meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats might not be the best for heart health.
  • Fried foods: Deep-fried or heavily processed foods in unhealthy oils can be high in trans fats.
  • Sugary beverages: Think about reducing the consumption of energy drinks and soda.
  • Salty snacks: Salty snacks like chips and pretzels can contain high levels of sodium.
  • Full-fat dairy: High-fat dairy products such as cream and certain cheeses might not be as favorable.
  • Highly processed grains: White rice and white bread might not be the best. Default to our list above!

How You Can Keep Your Heart Happy

We like to think that leading a lifestyle that prioritizes overall wellness and good nutrition can keep your beating heart happy! Next time you’re perusing the grocery store, just think about adding more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein sources, etc.

And of course, we can certainly support you in the protein department with our NEW, velvety-smooth protein shakes available at Target! Whether you choose Chocolate, Vanilla Cinnamon, or Coffee Bean, you’ll always get 16g of plant-based protein—helping you incorporate real nutrition for real life.

Endnotes

  1. Heart Health. (n.d.). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/heart-health
  2. Protein and Heart Health | The Heart Foundation. (n.d.). Heartfoundation-Prod.azurewebsites.net. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/bundles/healthy-living-and-eating/protein-and-heart-health

Disclaimer: This blog contains promotional content about our products. The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. While the nutritional information and health tips shared here are based on published studies and expert insights, they should not replace advice and treatment from a healthcare professional. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

By Kristen Carli, MS, RD


Kristen Carli is the owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, a private nutrition practice and consulting firm. She graduated from University of Arizona with a BA in psychology and then received a BS in dietetics from Arizona State University. After completion of the dietetic internship, she continued her education by receiving a MS in Human Nutrition from University of Western States. Having a passion for nutrition communication, she writes for many food and nutrition outlets as well as regularly develops recipes for food brands and media companies. Her nutrition expertise has been featured in InStyle, Bustle, Livestrong, The List, MyFitnessPal and many others. Additionally, Kristen is often featured via local TV segments sharing nutrition tips and tricks. She was selected to act as a Produce for Better Health Foundation Fruit and Vegetable Ambassador in Action, helping to promote the health benefits and importance of consuming fruits and vegetables, as well as a FoodMinds upwaRD winner for 2022, honoring up and coming media dietitians. You can find her reading, running, and exploring new restaurants with her husband and baby boy.