Your heart health is central to your overall health. Fueling your heart and embracing a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. You’re never too young or old to start taking care of your heart.

You can’t control all risk factors, like family history, but you can take preventative action to stay healthy. Exercise and maintaining low blood pressure and cholesterol all are factors that contribute to keeping these ailments at bay.

Your diet also has a lot to do with staying healthy in the long term. A well-stocked kitchen is essential for a healthy heart. But you don’t have to run out and buy expensive gourmet foods or gadgets in order to maintain a healthy diet.

Healthy meals will build themselves if you have a pantry, fridge, and freezer full of high-protein staples, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. Keeping the sodium at a minimum also contributes to healthier cooking.

Stocking your kitchen with these heart-healthy foods and snacks will encourage you and your family to eat healthier. This Valentine’s day, show your body some love with foods that’ll love your body back!

Healthy Pantry Essentials

These pantry staples should be at the top of your heart-healthy foods list. Fill your pantry with these items and shop weekly for perishable foods and recipe ingredients. Give yourself some healthy snacks for in-between meals, too.

  • Low-sodium vegetable, chicken, and beef broths
  • Rice, red, balsamic, or apple vinegar
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Whole grains (breads, cereals) and pastas
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Baking, red, and sweet potatoes
  • No-salt added canned beans 
  • Rolled or steel-cut oats
  • Reduced-sodium canned, diced, or whole tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • No-salt-added peanut or almond butter
  • Reduced-sodium soups (Healthy Valley, Amy’s Organic)
  • Plain or light (98% fat-free) microwaveable popcorn
  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Baked, trans-fat free tortilla chips
  • Raw, unsalted cashews, almonds, and walnuts

If you keep your pantry stocked with these dry essentials, you’ll have ingredients you can immediately pull out for your next meal or snack. Many of these items can also be bought in bulk, which can save you time and money down the road.

Freezer Fillers

The freezer can be the secret to a heart-healthy diet plan. A freezer full of fruits, vegetables, and low-sodium dishes is perfect for quick, healthy meals during busy weekdays and nights. 

  • Frozen peas and soybeans
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen berries and bananas
  • Frozen vegetable blends (no added sauce or gravy)
  • Pre-cooked grains
  • Pre-made meals
  • Reduced-fat/sodium entrees (Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice) — use these sparingly
  • Whole-grain breads

Stashing away food good for the heart in the freezer gives you something healthy to fall back on if you haven’t made it to the store. For breakfast, whip up a fruit smoothie and for dinner pull out a bag of veggies to go along with your meal. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a variety of fruits and veggies will keep your heart happy and healthy. Many fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins C and A — they work as antioxidants and help slow down the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

Mix it up with fresh options, canned veggies that are low in sodium, or frozen items that don’t include any added sauces or sugars. You should aim for 2-3 servings of each a day. 

  • Broccoli, kale, swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Garlic and onion
  • Yellow, green, or red bell peppers
  • Yellow, acorn, and spaghetti squash, and zucchini 
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocadoes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • Dried unsweetened fruits — raisins, figs, mangoes, papayas, apples, dates, cranberries

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing your fruits and veggies. Pick a few of your favorites to keep as staples in your kitchen (especially for snacking on) and mix things up with the rest along the way. 

Meat, Poultry, and Meat Alternatives

In general, red meats such as beef, pork, and lamb have higher levels of saturated fats. Opting for lean meats, fish, or unprocessed alternatives will still give you the proteins you need while keeping your heart health on track. 

  • Skinless, boneless chicken or turkey breasts and tenders
  • Ground chicken or turkey meat
  • Tuna, salmon, cod, tilapia, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines
  • Pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • Lean ground beef (ground round or ground sirloin — less marbling means lower fat content)
  • Tofu (soft, firm, or extra firm)
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan

If you love meat, the rule of thumb is to ultimately choose leaner cuts, no matter the type of meat. If you’re aiming to focus on mostly poultry and fish, there are lots of delicious recipe options out there to try out. 

Healthy Fats and Cooking Oils

The type of fat you eat is just as important as how much. Less than 7% of your daily fat calories should come from saturated fats. Replace the unhealthy fats in your kitchen with these heart-friendly options.

  • Plant-based cooking oils (avocado, coconut, olive, walnut, peanut, sesame, canola)
  • Non-fat cooking sprays
  • Trans fat-free margarine
  • Flaxseed or flax meal
  • Reduced fat or nonfat salad dressings (you can also make your own dressings using healthy ingredients)

As the base to a lot of cooking, it’s important to start with a healthy oil and fat. Keep your oils stored in a dark place so they stay better for longer. And if you ever see your oil smoking in the pan, start over with fresh oil — it may have lost its nutritional value and won’t be as tasty. 

Herbs and Spices

Give your salt shaker a break and spice up your palette with heart-healthy herbs, spices, and low-sodium seasonings. By reducing your sodium intake, you’ll lower your chance of high blood pressure. Elevate the taste of heart-healthy foods with these flavorings:

  • Turmeric, curry powder, cloves, coriander
  • Rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram, bay leaves
  • Ginger, dill, mint
  • Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise
  • Garlic and onion
  • Black pepper, chili peppers, red pepper, cayenne pepper

Herbs and spices are easy to incorporate into your diet. These seasonings offer heart health benefits, but they also provide a host of other well-being benefits, from elevating brain function to easing digestive issues. 

Stay On Top of Your Health This Year

Your health is important and it’s something you should actively take care of to prevent chronic illness and visits to the emergency room. Making changes to your diet, especially eating the best foods for your heart and arteries, is a powerful way to take control of your well-being. 

Having access to medical help and advice when you need it is also crucial in staying on top of your health. Preventative care is one of the best ways to manage any pre-existing or new conditions that may develop along the way. 

Through myCallADoc’s services, you and your family can always be in the know when it comes to your health. Simply sign up to start talking to a doctor or pediatrician within minutes. See if it’s the right fit for you by starting with a trial first — there are no limits on how many times you can talk to your doctor and no copays. 

Get affordable healthcare 24/7 with a myCallADoc trial > 


This article is not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a health and wellness plan.

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