Enjoy Foods That Are Heart Healthy

Keep blood pressure low by eating well

couple eating salads

Taking care of your heart doesn’t mean giving up the foods that you like. The key is eating a wide variety of foods in the right amounts. The DASH diet is a simple way to do so.

With Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), you’ll eat lots of vegetables and fruits, plus fish and chicken, whole grains, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy.

These foods provide minerals that are good for your heart, such as potassium and magnesium. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in wheat bread and brown rice provide fiber, which helps get rid of “bad” cholesterol.

Enjoy your favorites
You’ll eat less red meat, sugar, and salt with DASH, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut them out completely. You can still enjoy an occasional hamburger if you limit it to once a week. The benefit is a healthier heart and lower blood pressure. Following DASH can lower blood pressure by a few points in just 2 weeks.

Add healthy foods
For a heart-healthy meal, stir-fry vegetables and serve them over brown rice or whole wheat pasta. In recipes, replace red meat with skinless chicken to cut fat and calories. And add fish such as salmon and herring to your menu to get omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol.

Don’t forget flavor
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium to 1,500 mg daily. The average American eats twice that. Too much salt is one of the causes of high blood pressure and heart disease. Check food labels when you shop to avoid high-sodium products. Don’t skimp on flavor, though. Season your foods with healthy herbs and spices to keep things tasty without the sodium.

Plan your meals
A healthy diet is a balanced diet. Eating a variety of foods will help keep you satisfied, and planning your meals makes it easier to make good choices. Build your meals by checking the box below.


What to Eat Every Day

4-5 servings per day

4-5 servings per day

Whole grains
6-8 servings per day

Fish, chicken, or meat
2 servings per day

Low-fat or fat-free dairy
2-3 servings per day

Healthy fats or oils
2-3 servings per day

Beans, nuts, or seeds
4-5 servings per week

Limit to 5 per week