12 Foods for A Healthy Heart

Health + Fitness

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Heidi Diller, Albertsons Corporate Dietitian

By Heidi Diller




As a nutritionist, I thought I knew everything about how to support a healthy heart.  Then, a nutrition researcher at Tufts University changed my mind when he described how something as simple as flossing your teeth regularly could make a difference in reducing your heart disease risk.

Flossing your teeth? He explained since flossing keeps plaque-forming bacteria from entering gum tissue, it also helps our body from jumping into a defense mode called “inflammation.”  It's important to know that inflammation is good at times, like when we cut our skin and immune cells rush in to prevent infection.

However, chronic inflammation – as a result of being overweight or eating too many processed foods – can hurt us.  It’s like lighting a match in our body.

We used to think that heart disease was a result of fatty cholesterol deposits building up in our arteries, likening our bodies to clogged pipes. But guess what? We now know that heart attacks rarely happen due to this build-up. The biggest culprit is inflammation, which weakens the plaque build-up, causing it to rupture, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Today, “inflammation” is the new buzz word in the world of health. It is so widely-linked to heart disease and many other chronic diseases that many doctors now order C - Reactive Protein tests (CRP) to help determine if we are at risk.  The good news is that you can reduce chronic inflammation by changing what foods you eat.

Ways to Help Your Heart

Inflammatory Foods (Eat Less)

  1. Products with partially hydrogenated oils (Including stick margarines, commercial cakes, cookies and crackers, french fries and other fried foods)
  2. Refined grains and sugar (White bread, donuts and candy)
  3. Red meat

Anti-Inflammatory Foods (Eat More)

  1. Colorful fruits and vegetables
  2. Dark leafy greens
  3. Avocado
  4. Flax seed
  5. Canola and Olive oils
  6. Fish (wild salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, black cod)
  7. Fish oil
  8. Nuts
  9. Whole Soy Foods (edamame, soy milk, tofu)
  10. Tea
  11. Turmeric (an Indian spice)
  12. Tart cherry juice

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 48, Issue 4, Pages 677-685

Heidi Diller is Albertsons’ corporate nutritionist and manages the company’s “To Your Health” education program. Her expertise includes weight management, wellness, heart-health and senior nutrition education. Heidi is registered dietitian and an active member of the American Dietetic Association, Food and Culinary Dietitians Practice Group, and the Dietitians in Business and Communications. Heidi is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, California with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and Food Administration.

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  • My favorite part of this article is that you spotlight great foods that don't include meat.

    Posted by smits368, 13 June 2010.