Key Diet Changes to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Key Diet Changes to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

What to include and avoid for a healthier heart.

As the leading cause of death for men in women, in both the United States and worldwide, heart disease is a major concern for individuals and public health officials. In 2021 alone, 695,000 people in the U.S. died from heart disease, accounting for roughly 20% of deaths that year.[1]

Fortunately, there is an abundance of research and guidance on how to minimize your chances of developing heart disease. In this article, we discuss dietary decisions you can implement into your everyday life to keep your heart healthy. Given our mission to provide only the healthiest, most nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, we are proud that SaladPower all-organic smoothies align perfectly with a heart-healthy diet!

What to Include in Your Diet

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one of the best dietary decisions you can make to improve heart health is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.[2] As we covered in our previous article, “Why Veggies Are Universally Recognized as the Most Important Food Group” on [hyperlink article], “eating the rainbow” is a great rule of thumb for selecting fruits and vegetables to consume. Because the color of plant foods often connotate different sources of nutrients, you can generally rest assured that you are getting most of the nutrients you need by including a variety of fruits and vegetables ranging in color.

The AHA also encourages individuals to eat foods made with whole grains, rather than the more processed refined grains. This basic dietary change can reduce heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and also aid in gut health and better immune responses.[3]

Other AHA directives include choosing healthy sources of protein, such as legumes and nuts, fish and seafood, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products; using liquid plant oils, like soybean and canola oil; selecting minimally processed foods; avoiding added sugars; and moderating salt intake.

What to Avoid in your Diet

The foods and beverages you avoid can be as important as those you include in your diet, and often the categories are related. For instance, by choosing whole grains, you are also likely making the decision to avoid refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and crackers. While foods with refined grains often have a longer shelf life, the refining process also removes nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber.[4]

Similarly, eating minimally processed foods enhances the likelihood that you are avoiding heavily processed and ultra-processed foods. Please see our article on ultra-processed foods to discover why this is a pivotal dietary decision.

The AHA also recommends a diet limiting, or completely eliminating, full-fat dairy products, animal fats (e.g., butter and lard), and partially hydrogenated fats.

Reducing or eliminating alcohol intake is also associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, so be sure to consider this dietary change as well.

The AHA recommendations parallel a number of diets endorsed by food researchers, doctors, and nutritionists. For instance, the EAT-Lancet Commission is composed of 37 scientists from around the world, who are experts in fields ranging from health and agriculture to political science and environmental sustainability.[5] Together, they developed the EAT-Lancet diet, which closely mirrors the AHA recommendations, as a means for improving eating habits in a way that is sustainable for the planet.

In 2024, a team of researchers published the results of a long-term study (with a median follow-up of 25 years) of 23,260 participants to determine the efficacy of the EAT-Lancet diet. Their research indicated a correlation between a higher adherence to the EAT-Lancet diet and a lower risk of heart failure.[6]

As you continue along your journey for better health, we encourage you to do your best to adhere to a heart-healthy diet, whether you are eating at home, with friends, or at a restaurant. Also, try to be mindful that your calorie intake does not exceed the calories you burn in a given day.

For a convenient way to incorporate heart-healthy foods into your diet, we are proud to offer our SaladPower all-organic smoothies, which can be shipped to your door with the click of a button. We know it can be difficult to balance a healthy diet with a busy lifestyle, so we made SaladPower as an easy source of premium, organic fruits and vegetables just for you!


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, May 15). Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[2] Lichtenstein, A. H., Appel, L. J., Vadiveloo, M., Hu, F. B., Kris-Etherton, P. M., Rebholz, C. M., Sacks, F. M., Thorndike, A. N., Van Horn, L., & Wylie-Rosett, J. (2021). 2021 Dietary Guidance to Improve Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 144(23).

[3] Whole grains may lead to a healthier gut, better immune responses. (2017, February 9).

[4] AskUSDA. (2024).

[5] EAT-Lancet. (2019). The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health - EAT. EAT.

[6] Zhang, S., Marken, I., Stubbendorff, A., Ericson, U., Qi, L., Sonestedt, E., & Borné, Y. (2024). The EAT-Lancet Diet Index, Plasma Proteins, and Risk of Heart Failure in a Population-Based Cohort. JACC. Heart Failure.

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