salmon filets with lemon, butter, and spices

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.3% of adults in the U.S. (26.6 million) have been diagnosed with heart disease. It’s a significant problem that causes over 600,000 deaths each year. Daily habits play a big part in your heart health, and poor dietary habits can have major consequences on your heart as you age. Adding heart-healthy options to your regular diet can help you to consistently strengthen your heart and clean your blood and arteries. If you’re looking for simple heart-strengthening foods to add to your diet, start with these:

1. Fresh herbs

Herbs are full of flavor, but don’t add the salt and fat of oil or butter. Using fresh oregano, basil, or sage to spruce up your pasta or chicken will make your dish savory while still keeping it lean and heart healthy.

2. Black beans

Black beans and other legumes are loaded with health benefits, including folate, antioxidants, and magnesium that lower blood pressure. The fiber in the beans also helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar under control.

3. Salmon

Salmon, like some other fish, are loaded with omega-3s, healthy fats that lower blood pressure and can help prevent heart rhythm disorders.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil, unlike other oils and saturated fats like butter, contains healthy fat and is rich with antioxidants that protect blood vessels.

5. Walnuts

Walnuts and other nuts, are high in protein and can help lower cholesterol. They are a flavorful and healthy snack that protects against inflammation, keeping your heart in good shape.

6. Tofu

Tofu is a great vegetarian or vegan option to substitute heart-damaging red meats. It is packed with healthy minerals, polyunsaturated fats, and fiber that helps strengthen the heart.

7. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a hearty food that not only fills you up but also helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Oats are loaded with fiber that lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), making them a smart breakfast option or addition to breads or pancakes.

8. Avocados

Avocados are rich with heart-healthy fats. These monounsaturated fats lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL).

9. Spinach

Spinach is an overall superfood. It’s an easy addition to salads or smoothies and contains stores of heart-strengthening lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber.

10. Dark chocolate

When you need a sweet snack but don’t want the fat and sugar of milk chocolate, dark chocolate is a nice alternative. Cacao, the base of chocolate, is rich in flavonols that lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. You should look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa or more, for less sugar.

Though deaths due to heart disease are down, it still remains the #1 killer of Americans. By incorporating heart-healthy foods into your day-to-day meals, you can fight this statistic, increase your stamina, and improve your quality of life.