How to Eat a Heart Healthy Diet

A heart-healthy diet is simply a natural way to help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall health.

It's a whole foods-friendly diet that features natural, unprocessed foods -- including loads of fresh veggies and fruit, lean proteins, and whole grains. You'll enjoy these foods while at the same time reducing or eliminating foods high in saturated fat, salt, and processed sugar.

Grilled salmon with habanero butter
Photo by Meredith.

What to Eat on the Heart-Healthy Diet

Follow these tips and eating heart-healthy won't feel like deprivation at all. In fact, think of it as adding food to your diet rather than taking anything away. With dishes like grilled salmon recipes, homemade hummus, fresh salads, and savory soups and stews, you can serve amazing meals everyone in your family will love. And that makes for a happy and healthy heart.

1. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals.

What could be less processed than that?

Mesclun and Mango Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing
Mesclun and Mango Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing | Photo by Allrecipes.

2. Choose whole grains.

Whole grains are higher in fiber and nutrients than "white" carbs like white breads and white rice.

Red Quinoa and Avocado Salad
Photo by lesley22.

3. Cut back on processed foods.

Here are three ways to do it:

  • Plan ahead: Plan your meals ahead of time. You control what goes into homemade meals. Like to snack? Try packing some nuts or fresh fruit to curb those cravings.
  • Take the two-week challenge: Go without sugar and refined "white" carbs for two weeks. You might find you feel better and have fewer cravings.
  • Limit salt: Eating salty foods can actually increase cravings for more salty foods. And it's not just chips. Canned soups, frozen meals, and fast foods can pack in surprisingly high amounts of sodium. Read the labels and take serving sizes into account.

4. Substitute Omega-3 fatty acids in place of saturated fats.

Fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel) and nuts are good sources of Omega-3s, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Here are three easy ways to sneak Omega-3s into your diet:

  • Snack on pecans instead of chips
  • Trade the steak for a salmon filet
  • Sprinkle ground flax seeds into your cereal
Chef John's Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon
Chef John's Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon | Photo by Allrecipes.

Check out our collection of Salmon Recipes.

5. Choose lean proteins.

Healthy proteins like fish and seafood, beans, turkey breast, and poultry are heart-smart choices.

Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers
Photo by Dianne.

Check out more Simple Tips for Eating Healthy With Easy Recipes.

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