It’s time to love your heart with great tasting food! A healthy diet is always important for a healthy heart. However, for those at a greater risk for heart disease, like people with diabetes, the stakes are even higher. Fortunately, one of the most significant ways to reduce your risk for heart disease is as easy as adjusting what’s on your plate.

According to both the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, the key to a “heart smart plate” is limiting foods high in sodium and fat, particularly those high in saturated and trans-fats, while emphasizing whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Recent studies show that along with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, there are plenty of tasty foods that are great for your heart. These foods are filled with powerful phytonutrients that protect and potentially reverse damage to your heart. Below are ten of my favorite heart-healthy super stars along with their heart healthy active components. The foods and ingredients can be easily – and deliciously – incorporated into any heart-loving daily diet.

Ten Heart-Healthy Superstars

  1. Oatmeal – Soluble fiber
  2. Tomatoes – Caroteniods
  3. Salmon – Omega-3 fatty acids
  4. Walnuts – Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E
  5. Berries – Flavonoids and antioxidants
  6. Soymilk – Isoflavones and calcium
  7. Green Tea – Catechins and flavonoids
  8. Olive/Canola Oil – Monounsaturated fats
  9. Red Wine – Resveratrol
  10. Cocoa powder – Resveratrol

Active components

  • Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and are powerful antioxidants that protect your heart from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Flavonoids, catechins, resveratrol, and isoflavones protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help boost the immune system, reduce blood clots and protect against heart attacks. They also increase good HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries from plaque buildup, are anti-inflammatories and lower blood pressure.

Delicious Heart Smart Recipes

Salmon Packets with Tomato Basil Relish

Deep Dark Hot Chocolate

Marlene Koch

Marlene Koch, RD, (pronounced "Cook") has specialized in delicious food and healthy lifestyles for over twenty years. Thus, when Marlene realized she couldn’t bake a delicious cake without sugar for her stepdaughter newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she set out to find the sweet solution! Marlene is now a foremost authority on sugar and sugar substitutes and the author of the best-selling healthy, low-sugar hardback cookbook series which includes Unbelievable Desserts and Fantastic Food with Splenda, and her newest release, Marlene Koch’s Sensational Splenda Recipes: 375 Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat and Calories (M.Evans publisher). With combined sales of over 600,000 copies, Marlene and her books successfully bridge the gap between good food and good health!

Marlene graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in nutrition from U.C.L.A. in 1986 and is one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association. Combining her love of food with her educational foundation, she has held such positions as Hospital Foodservice Director, Nutrition Professor, Cooking Instructor for the Columbus State Culinary Academy and as a national nutrition educator to chefs for the American Culinary Federation. Her passion for teaching others how to make healthy food taste delicious also extend to her private nutrition practice specializing in weight loss, diabetes, and wellness.

Marlene loves to teach (and to eat!); her energetic and upbeat style has made her a popular food and nutrition speaker for organizations such as the American Diabetes and American Heart Associations and sought after for television and radio appearances which have included affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and Shaw TV (Vancouver) and radio stations nationwide.

Latest posts by Marlene Koch (see all)