When it comes to supporting a healthy heart, there are tons of small choices you can make every day that make a big difference. Daily exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing mindfulness are all important parts of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle (check out our list of 5 Ways To Support a Healthy Heart for some more tips).
But one of the best ways to support your heart health comes down to the dietary choices that we make everyday. Nutrient-rich diets full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are a great way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Read on for some of our go-to tips for making heart-healthy changes to your diet.
Swap Salt for Spices
A heart-healthy diet is low in sodium1 and processed foods. Try to prioritize cooking at home whenever you can, so you can control how much sodium goes into your meals.
When you’re cooking, swap out salt for spices and fresh herbs wherever possible. This way, you keep things flavorful and exciting while reducing your sodium intake. You’ll also get the chance to experiment with new spices and find creative new ways to enrich your dishes. Turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper… the options are endless (and chock-full of flavor).
Eat the Rainbow
Add colorful fruits and veggies to every meal. As a general rule, the more colors you can count on your plate, the better!
We love snacking on fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower and carrots. It’s also important to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, like spinach and kale. Check out this Spinach and Strawberry Salad by Eating Well for a creative new take on a classic lunch salad—because getting your greens can be delicious, we promise.
Frozen fruits and veggies are always a good budget-friendly option as well. Just make sure to cook them with herbs and spices instead of coating them with heavy sauces and cheese. Keep your plate colorful to help keep your heart happy.
Find Healthy Alternatives
Eating a heart-healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your favorite foods and snacks. Finding healthy alternatives to your go-to treats is key to maintaining a balanced diet and supporting your heart long-term. Cutting back on your sugar intake is a great place to start.1
Indulge in a bowl of fresh berries to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of a cookie or chocolate. Or, if you’re really craving that baked treat, find a low-sugar recipe to make at home. Check out this recipe for The Best Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies by The Sugar Free Diva, which uses cacao powder instead of highly processed sweeteners for a dark and decadent treat.
Incorporate More Plant Protein
While you’re emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet, it’s also a good idea to keep saturated fats and red meat to a minimum, too. Growing research has tied highly processed red meats like bacon, salami, hot dogs, and sausages to a possible increased risk of cardiovascular disease.2
We like swapping out highly-processed red meats for plant-based proteins a few times a week. Nuts, seeds, and legumes are proteins that contain fiber and nutrients, and they’re super-easy to incorporate into your diet.
Instead of reaching for that burger or sausage, try whipping up these Crispy Quinoa Patties by Feel Good Foodie.
Making good dietary choices every day is one of the best ways to support your heart health long-term. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins—coupled with a lifestyle that includes exercise and regular check-ups—can help boost your heart health for years to come.
1 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2016). Retrieved on Feb 24, 2022.
2 National Institutes of Health. (2012). Retrieved on Feb 23, 2022.