10 Fabulous Heart-Healthy Superfoods

The highly respected American Heart Association devotes a considerable amount of time and energy to educating seniors (and others) about heart-healthy living. This includes nutrition and diet advice. In this regard, the American Heart Association has announced what the organization calls “cardiovascular all-stars,” superfoods that you need to include on your grocery list. These 10 fabulous heart-healthy superfoods are:

  • Beets
  • Pumpkin seeds and walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Salmon
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts
  • Chili Peppers


Beets get exceptionally high marks from the American Heart Association. According to the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic, beets contain significant amounts of nitrates. Nitrates assist in keeping blood vessels appropriately dilated and healthy. A British research study revealed that something as simple as drinking a cup of beet juice daily significantly lowered blood pressure for people with high blood pressure.

The American Heart Association also notes that red, orange, and yellow foods contain heart-healthy antioxidants. These include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Acorn squash
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya

Pumpkin Seeds and Walnuts

A research study presented in 2019 at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions found that eating pumpkin seeds has the potential to lower blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber and other nutrients, these include magnesium. Regarding walnuts, a 2019 Penn State University study found that participants who ate walnuts daily while lowering overall saturated fats saw their blood pressure decrease.

“Any nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats,” explained Kate Patton. Patton is the lead outpatient dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. “For people who don’t eat fish, they are a good way to get in those omega-3 fats.”

A 2019 study presented at the European Society of Cardiology revealed that eating nuts two or more times a week was associated with a 17 percent lower risk of cardiovascular fatality. Do eat nuts in moderation because they can be rich in calories.


Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported in a 2020 study of more than 200,000 people a link between consuming isoflavone-rich tofu more than once a week and an 18 percent lower risk of heart disease. Researchers also noted that tofu is an excellent source of plant protein. It’s a good substitute for red meat or pork. Tofu also contains phytosterols which are plant cholesterols that improve the level of bad cholesterol in our bodies.

Recent USDA dietary guidelines recommend around 5 to 6 ounces of protein (from meat, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, or soy products) a day. According to the American Heart Association, when people are heavy meat eaters, they need to slowly find ways to replace meat with other healthy foods. Tofu is one such healthy option.

Olives and Olive Oil

If you’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet, then you already know at least something about olive oil. Olives and olive oil not only boost good, heart-protective cholesterol but also can lower the risk of both diabetes and strokes.

Recent research confirms the healthy effects of olives and olive oil. For example, a 2020 European study found that patients who suffered previous heart attacks and subsequently followed a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil had better repair of the arterial linings. A 2020 study by the University of Minnesota Medical School showed that olive oil might help people live longer.

Try to follow the USDA guidelines regarding olive oil. Specifically, a diet should include 27 grams of olive oil a day. This is about two tablespoons each day. You need to remember that olive oil can be relatively high in sodium. Thus, you are wise to select a low-sodium variety.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans are underrated. Garbanzo beans are rich in fiber, which helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). Garbanzo beans are also a good source of quality protein. Other members of the legume family are also highly healthy:

  • Pinto beans
  • Red beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans


Oatmeal has been touted for its nutritional properties for 50 years. Oatmeal is rich in fiber. It aids in cutting down on cholesterol absorption and contributes to a person’s gut health. Soluble fiber, of the kind found in oatmeal, is crucial to our digestive health and overall wellness. In addition to oatmeal, other recommendations from the American Heart Association are:

  • Quinoa
  • Whole grain brown rice
  • Whole grain wild rice
  • Whole grain black rice


The American Heart Association reaffirmed its long-standing recommendation to eat fish. The American Heart Association particularly recommends salmon and other oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. The recommendation is to eat this type of fish twice a week. This helps to stave off the risk of:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Other coronary diseases

Recent research suggests that fish and some other seafood contain something called trimethylamine N-oxide which may also reduce hypertension-related symptoms.

Other recommended fishes include:

  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Albacore tuna
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel


Blueberries are high in soluble fiber and polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that absorb free radicals. Blueberries are also high in vitamin C. The American Heart Association also recommends the following:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Grapes (for those who do not care for berries)

Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts

According to the American Heart Association, broccoli and Brussel sprouts are particularly strong players in cardiovascular health. A 2020 study in Australia found that broccoli and Brussel sprouts are linked to a decline in blood vessel disease. They’re high in disease-fighting flavonoids and carotenoids. They are also high cholesterol-lowering fiber. In addition, as is the case with vegetables, they are generally low in caloric density. This means you can eat a lot without tipping the calorie scale.

The American Heart Association also recommends the following:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Baby greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens

According to the American Heart Association, you should get three servings of dark green, leafy vegetables daily to reduce your overall risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.

Chili Peppers

Chili peppers are high in a substance known as capsaicin. This actually is the element of chili peppers that sets your mouth on fire. Capsaicin also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and blood-glucose-regulating effects. The American Heart Association explains that this is good news for your heart.

A 2020 study of 570,000 people found that those who ate chili peppers had a stunning 26 percent lower relative risk of cardiovascular mortality than those who rarely or never ate chili peppers.

Consider the recommendations in this article as put forth by the American Heart Association. You not only ensure a tasty diet, but you enhance your health and wellness as well.