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Heart disease health centre

10 top 'superfoods' for your heart

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

When it comes to keeping your heart healthy choosing the right foods can make a real difference.

What you eat may help prevent your risk of developing heart disease - or help protect your heart if you already have problems. Eating a healthy heart diet may also help lower your blood pressure, control blood sugar, and reduce cholesterol too. These 3 conditions are all linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

There's no one magic food when it comes to heart health. "It's important to get the overall balance right by eating foods from all of the major food groups in the right proportions," says Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation.

We asked the experts which foods they'd recommend.

1. Porridge

A steaming bowl of porridge is a wonderful way to start your day. Oats are cheap, versatile, easy to prepare and are good for your heart health.

"Oats have become a trendy breakfast! From overnight oats to topping your porridge with colourful berries, these simple grains have become an exciting way to start your day. It's better to buy the plain, non-processed oats as some of the sweeter instant packs can have a lot of added sugar," says dietitian Lilia Malcolm, who's a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

Oats have many health benefits as these small wholegrains are packed with important vitamins and minerals. They are a particularly good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.

"What makes them so good for our hearts is their role in lowering cholesterol, which is down to the amount of beta glucans - a type of soluble fibre," explains Lilia. "Beta glucans form a thick 'paste-like' substance in our gut that mops up excess cholesterol and reduces its absorption. Beta glucans, consumed regularly at the optimal amount of 3g per day, can reduce the amount of the damaging LDL cholesterol," she says.

2. Salmon

Salmon is tasty, readily available and it's good for you too.

The British Heart Foundation recommends 1 to 2 portions of fish a week including one portion of an oily fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel.

What makes oily fish a good heart health option is that it's packed with omega-3 fatty acids which are needed for a healthy heart and circulation.

"These omega-3 fatty acids - specifically the EPA and DHA - have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effect, as well as protecting the heart and its surrounding vessels from disease. Experts in the field of omega-3 research claim that eating foods with high omega-3 content are associated with a 10% lower risk of fatal heart attacks," says Lilia.

There's plenty of choice when it comes to oily fish. As an alternative to salmon try trout, fresh tuna or pilchards.

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