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strawberries and blueberries for heart health

The 7 Best Foods for Your Heart Revealed

, by Dr. Jeff Pearl, MD, 6 min reading time

best foods for your heart

You can avoid a broken heart, naturally. No, I’m not talking about relationships; you’re on your own on that one. I’m referring to how to keep your heart healthy. And although technically, the heart doesn’t break (except on rare occasions), it can become damaged. Most commonly, heart damage is related to inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. This causes clogging of the coronary arteries, known as Atherosclerosis.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.

It’s not surprising then, that there’s a lot of effort and cost used towards treating and preventing it. It’s hard to not walk through the grocery store or even look at a menu at a restaurant now without seeing a “heart healthy” label on many foods. The typical Western diet is one of the leading factors in the development of heart disease. This proves to be true as other countries, that have adopted our diet, are starting to experience an increase in heart disease as well.

Although the development of Atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries) has many causes, dietary cholesterol and certain fats are leading contributors to its development. Fortunately, for most people, dietary modifications can result in lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and higher HDL (good cholesterol). This includes not only regulating and watching the amount of high cholesterol and high fat food one eats, but also adding in healthier foods that are known to decrease cholesterol as well.

Many of the supplements used to help decrease cholesterol, and even the leading prescription anti-cholesterol drug, are derived from food. A little known fact –the active ingredient in Statin drugs, prescribed to millions of Americans for high cholesterol, was found in and developed from a natural occurring component in Red yeast rice.

What are the best foods for your heart?


These fish contain beneficial Omega-3s which are probably the most well recognized substance to help with cholesterol. The red color of salmon and trout is from the presence of Astaxanthin- a powerful antioxidant with numerous potential health benefits.


Oatmeal is a great way to decrease cholesterol as well as providing needed fiber. Both Oatmeal and Walnuts are one of the few edible sources of plant Sterols and Stanols- which are excellent at decreasing LDL cholesterol. Chia seeds are one of the most potent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and excellent source of fiber.

good fats olive oil

Yes, we need some fat, especially the good fats such as mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Limit saturated fats and no trans-fats. Using olive oil or canola oil and consuming soy based products is a simple way to get a start on improving your lipid profile.

cherries for heart health

Antioxidants are also beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Atherosclerosis involves an inflammatory/oxidation process to incorporate the cholesterol into the wall of the coronary artery. Foods that are high in antioxidants are blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranates, cherries, green tea, and tomatoes.

garlic bulbs

Garlic decreases the bad LDL cholesterol lowers blood pressure and has actually been shown to reverse existing coronary artery plaque. Aged garlic is best. Perhaps one of the many reasons (along with red wine) that the Mediterranean diet is good for the heart.


Grapes and red wine contains both Resveratrol and Proanthocyanidins. Red wine and grapes are antioxidants and are cardio-protective (helps dilate the blood vessels to carry more blood to the heart). So, the adage that red wine can influence relationships and perhaps helping one get over a broken heart, is actually supported by scientific physiologic basis as well.

Apple for Heart Health
Apples contain Rutin as well as fiber. Rutin is also found in Asparagus, buckwheat, citrus fruit rind, and cranberries. It functions as an anti-bacterial and antioxidant, and also mildly inhibits platelets from clotting- which is often the initiating event leading to a heart attack.

Obviously, there are many other foods that are heart healthy, or at least not heart un-healthy. A balanced sensible diet, adding some of these heart healthy foods, and regular exercise will go a long way to preventing a broken heart. Of course for the metaphorical type of broken heart, you are on your own, that is not my area of expertise.


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Article By Jeff Pearl, MD

Article By Jeff Pearl, MD
Dr. Jeff is a trained general, pediatric cardiac, and transplant surgeon. Nutrition has always been an important concern for surgeons in regards to patients healing from surgery. He has had a longstanding interest in health, nutrition and supplements, and been an advocate of the use of nutrition and supplements in the hospital setting to aid in his patient’s recovery. He has a history of basic science and clinical research and a keen ability to interpret studies and statistics to determine their true significance. He is the father and step-father to several teenage athletes and knows firsthand the challenges they face in balancing their time, eating habits and use of supplements. He is adamant about trying to educate our youth about better nutrition. Dr. Jeff recognizes the challenges that healthcare faces and the need for people to take charge of their own health and disease prevention. He loves being outside and is one of those crazy few seen hiking or biking in the middle of the day in summer.


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