Learn to Love Your Heart with What You Eat

Contact Info: 

Contact Matt Raymond or Jania Matthews at 202-296-6540 or media@foodinsight.org

(Washington, D.C.) – February is American Heart Month and a healthful diet and active lifestyle are some of the best weapons people have to fight heart disease.

According to the International Food Information Council Functional Foods/Foods for Health Consumer Trending Survey, cardiovascular health risks, including high blood pressure, stroke and high cholesterol, are the top health concern for many Americans. Despite this concern, people struggle to incorporate “heart-healthy” foods into their diet. For example, while eight out of 10 Americans are aware of the relationship between omega-3s and heart health, less than half (48 percent) of Americans are currently consuming omega-3s for this benefit.

“Consuming a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can help reduce your risk for heart disease,” according to David Grotto, RD. “But that’s only one side of the equation. It is also important to choose foods that can promote heart health such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fiber.”

Other foods that promote heart health include:

  • Nuts: As a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fat, nuts are a powerhouse food that can promote heart health. Almonds and hazelnuts are also high in vitamin E, which helps promote the function of a healthy cardiovascular system.
  • “Heart Healthy” Fats: Both monounsaturated fat (olive, canola, peanut or high oleic safflower oil) or polyunsaturated fat (sunflower, corn or soybean oil) may help promote heart health. Salmon, sardines, herring, trout and tuna are terrific sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as are eggs and some fortified brands of peanut butter, mayonnaise, cooking oil, cereal, pasta and nutrition bars.
  • Soy Protein: Getting your daily protein from soy sources can also help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Look for soy protein in nutrition bars, fortified soy beverages, tofu, soy cheese and edamame or try adding soy protein to your favorite smoothie.
  • Sterols and Stanols: These plant-based food components help block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. They are found in foods like corn, soy, wheat and some fortified foods like soft table spreads, orange juice and yogurt.
  • Dark Chocolate: Some dark chocolates can contain helpful components called flavanols.  These cocoa-derived flavanols have been shown to help support the cardiovascular system, which helps move blood to and from the heart. When included in moderation, dark chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

These are just a few of the many healthful foods and food components that can promote heart health. To help people incorporate more “heart healthy” foods into their diet, the International Food Information Council Foundation has developed two new resources including a video, “Foods for Health: Eating for Heart Health” produced in partnership with registered dietitian David Grotto, author of “101 Optimal Life Foods.”  In addition to the video, a new online guide provides detailed insights on eating for heart health.

The heart health video is the fourth in the Foundation’s “Foods for Health” series.  Videos on Healthy Kids and Families, Immune Health and Weight Management are available on our FoodInsightTV channel, which features a wide range of videos on food and health topics.  Future “Foods for Health” video topics that will be released in the next few months include digestive health and healthy aging.

For more on the International Food Information Council Foundation’s resources and videos or any other questions, please contact the Foundation media team at 202-296-6540, Mittenthal@ific.org or Matthews@ific.org.