5 Ingredients Cardiologists Always Stock in Their Kitchens

Take a peek inside these medical professionals' pantries.

As such a huge component of our overall well-being, it's important to eat foods that support a healthy heart. If you're wondering what exactly falls into the "heart-healthy" category, look to popular diets that the American Heart Association recommends, such as the the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet. Focusing on a variety of fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy, you'll be surprised just how many of your favorite foods are considered heart-healthy.

Since heart health is their main goal, we asked several cardiologists what they always stock in their kitchens to make wholesome meals that are quick, easy, and delicious. Here are their answers:


You probably have the oil for cooking, but does your kitchen include the fruits in their whole form, too? "Olives are antioxidant-rich, low in carbs, and high in healthy monounsaturated fats. All of those qualities mean they can help to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease," says Satjit Bhusri, MD, the founder of Upper East Side Cardiology in New York City.

He enjoys snacking on them as an appetizer and also tosses them into entrees. Try olives in 15-minute Kalamata Olive Tapenade or this Quick and Easy Chicken and Tomato Pasta.

raw salmon fillet


Go fish, recommends Leonard Pianko, MD, a cardiologist at Aventura Cardiovascular Center in Aventura, Florida. "Salmon is a staple in my household and it's one of those foods that I highly recommend to my patients because of its heart benefits and universal appeal," he says. But if salmon isn't your favorite catch, "any type of seafood or fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are very heart-healthy. Research indicates that eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces chronic inflammation, and as a result, heart risk factors," Pianko explains.

Try heart-healthy recipes like Chef John's Fresh Salmon Cakes or Oven-Baked Salmon with Herbs twice each week and you may reduce your risk for stroke and heart failure as you lower your blood pressure and total cholesterol.

Leafy Greens

From kale to collards, spinach to Swiss chard, you pretty much can't overdo it by adding greens to your diet. "Leafy greens and fiber-rich vegetables are extremely versatile and can be added to most recipes like soup, spaghetti sauce and other sauces, added to sandwiches or eggs, or consumed raw in place of chips or crackers," says John Osborne, MD, a Dallas, Texas-based cardiologist and American Heart Association volunteer.

Osborne is a big fan of this Slow Cooker Kale Tomato and White Bean Soup. You can also get your fix of good-for-you greens in Mushrooms and Spinach Italian Style or sip on this Superfood Berry-Green Smoothie that will please even picky eaters.

canned chickpeas with liquid


In addition to leaves of all kinds, Osborne always has a bounty of beans on hand. "I try to incorporate these into as many meals as possible, and use them to cut back on more calorie-dense ingredients such as meat and fats. Beans are inexpensive and hearty, making them a great plant-based protein for soups, salads, and pasta dishes or made into a homemade hummus or bean dip," he says.

Those leafy greens and beans are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. Like many of the nutritious noshes here, eating more of both "can help reduce cholesterol levels, maintain normal blood pressure, and can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke," Osborne adds.

Give beans a go in recipes like this refreshing Two-Bean and Mango Salad or Insanely Easy Vegetarian Chili.

hemp seeds
Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images

Nuts and Seeds

Just like with fruits and vegetables, mixing up your intake of nuts and seeds will offer your body the most nutritional bang for your bite. "I always keep around a mixture of ground flax, chia, almonds, walnuts, and oats," says Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC, the founder and chief medical officer of Step One Foods in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She often mixes her nut and seed blend with a bit of chopped dried fruit for a DIY trail mix. The result is a heart-healthy recipe that will boost your fiber intake to keep you satisfied longer after you eat while delivering heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, disease-fighting antioxidants, and cholesterol-lowering plant sterols.

"To get the maximum benefit, you should consume these nutrients over the course of the day, so I try to add this to my menu at least twice per day, like as a yogurt or oatmeal topping, or even to spaghetti sauce," Klodas says. Try this heart-healthy nut and seed mix in Easy, Healthy No-Cook Overnight Oats or snack on Chia Seed Power Balls.

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