The Top 3 Diets for Heart Health
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Discover what to eat for a healthy heart  

Diets for Heart Health 2

Nutrition plays a major role in reducing many of the risk factors for heart disease. 

Making healthy eating choices is not only important to keep your blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure healthy, it influences your ability to manage a healthy weight and protect against diabetes.

What diet is best for the heart? 

Rest assured that the best heart-healthy eating plan is the one you will actually follow.  You do not need a so called “diet”. Instead, you need a healthy lifestyle you can sustain for life.   

Follow a plan that speaks to your food personality and the types of foods that you and your family enjoy.  Work with an experienced Registered Dietitian  that can help guide the way and making eating well simple and tasty. 

Read on to find out how many researchers would define the top 3 diets for heart health next. 

Top Diet for Heart Health: The Mediterranean Diet 

The Mediterranean Diet includes traditional foods from countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. There is an emphasis on plant-based foods such as grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and oils, as well as wine and small portions of seafood, poultry, meat and cheese. 

Research on the Mediterranean diet started over 50 years ago when researchers examined the health outcomes of more than 13,000 middle-aged men in the popular Seven Countries Study. They learned that those from the Greek island of Crete had lower cardiovascular disease than those in other countries. 

Since this study, not only has the Mediterranean diet been shown in multiple research studies to improve heart disease and stroke risk, the diet may lower the risk of diabetes, obesity and even reduce cognitive decline as you age. 

It has been proposed that the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are attributed to lowered oxidative stress and reduced inflammation that are at the core of chronic disease. The unsaturated “good fats” found in Mediterranean foods and rich emphasis on plants provide plenty of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals for health. 

Best diets for heart health - Mediterranean Diet

Top Diet for Heart Health: The DASH Diet 

The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet has been shown in research to lower blood pressure significantly in part due to the rich sources of potassium, magnesium, calcium, as well as protein and fibre. This eating plan emphasizes plenty of fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy foods, and reduced saturated fat. The DASH diet also includes whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts and is low in red meat, sweets, added sugars, and sweetened beverages typical in North American diets.  

Top Diet for Heart Health: The MIND Diet 

Martha Clare Morris, PhD, a nutrition epidemiologist and her colleagues designed the MIND diet which is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diet. Both diets have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, heart attack and stroke.  The MIND diet also has been shown to lower the risk of dementia and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.   

The 10 brain healthy food groups included in the MIND diet includes green leafy veggies, other veggies, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine.  The MIND diet recommends reducing red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets and fried or fast food. 

Learn more about the Mind Diet here

What does a heart healthy diet look like? 

Add the right fats (don’t be fat phobic) 

Unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and fish are healthy fats that are good for us. Be sure to include a moderate amount of these in your diet, as they lower your “bad” or LDL-cholesterol. 

For a full deep dive into the topic of saturated fat for your heart read my previous blog post here:  Has the advice on saturated fat changed? 


Become friends with fibre  

Fibre found in whole grain breads, bran cereals, beans/legumes, and fruits/veggies help to reduce cholesterol and keep you full longer. Soluble fibre which is especially high in bran cereals containing psyllium is particularly good for reducing cholesterol levels when you eat it regularly. 


Eat more plants 

It is no surprise that the healthiest heart healthy diets include plenty of plants. Plant foods are associated with more diverse gut bacteria, and that this may have a key influence on metabolism, inflammation, and risk for disease.  

If you need some inspiration for adding more fruits and veggies to your diet check out this article on our blog:  Eating the rainbow and 20 ways to eat more vegetables.

What other wellness factors are important for heart health? 

While you may not be able to change some risk factors for heart disease such as your genetics or family history, there are so many things you can do. 

Outside of eating well to achieve your personal best weight and managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, it is important to quit smoking, keep physically active and reduce stress. Sound overwhelming? Take one step at a time — every effort you make to live a healthier life is movement in the right direction. 



Does a heart healthy diet include chocolate? Eggs? French fries? Alcohol? Bacon? 

Yes it can. A heart healthy diet for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and overall heart disease treatment and prevention does not require you to be perfect.  There are no bad foods, only bad overall diets. 

The best diet to follow is the one you can realistically sustain for life.   

For the record – there is nothing fundamentally wrong with YOU if you have not been able to stick to a diet. The diet was fundamentally flawed from the start. 

As with most things in life, one size does not fit all. Be wary of any eating plan that says there is one way to eat that is superior. Scientific evidence does not suggest this is the case. You can be healthy following a wide range of eating plans (including both eating meat or as a vegetarian). 

Looking for more help on building a heart healthy diet you can live with for life? 

Contact us to book a free complimentary call to find out more about our in-person or virtual Registered Dietitian services.

Don’t forget to check your health insurance! Many insurance plans cover Dietitian services.

If you enjoyed this blog, check out our other articles on related topics:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This