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Updated: Jan 31

Your heart works incredibly hard, beating about 100,000 times per day.

A heart exercising.

There are a lot of things you can do to keep your heart healthy and nourished. From exercise and stress reduction to eating right, we have you covered.

The effects of stress on the heart are well documented, and chronic stress increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, keeping your stress low is very important for a healthy heart. Check out our article, Stress 101, for ways to keep your stress under control.

Most people don’t know that your gut's health impacts your heart. Changes in certain gut bacteria can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. So keeping it healthy is vital to keep your heart in shape. Check out our Gut Health Center to learn how to keep your gut working at its best.

To no one's surprise, exercise is essential to any healthy heart program. It can strengthen the heart, reduce blood pressure levels, help the heart function better, improve energy levels, and more. But, contrary to popular belief, cardio is not the best exercise for cardiovascular health; strength training is. So, check out this great guide to strength training to get started.

Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program if you have a heart condition.

A heart lifting weights

It's time to put on Eye Of The Tiger and get those reps in!

One of the most underrated ways to improve your heart health is to get in the sun at certain times. It will help to optimize your sleep cycle and reduce stress levels. Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine first thing in the morning (without sunglasses) before looking at your phone or other screens, and 15 minutes around sunset. Walk around barefoot in the grass while doing it, also known as grounding, for maximum benefits!

Spending time in nature is a great way to benefit your heart and helps build your microbiome. Hiking, jumping in a lake, climbing trees, and digging in the garden provides many more benefits than most people imagine. So get outside!

Getting proper sleep is very important for a healthy heart. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. If your sleep habits need help, click the button below to download our free guide to healthy sleep!

Sleeping Guide 5_1_23
Download PDF • 2.59MB

Drinking plenty of water is vital for a healthy heart. Being dehydrated makes it harder for your heart to pump blood properly, can increase blood pressure, and make blood thicker, increasing the risk of blood clots. It’s easier to get dehydrated than most people think. Clean electrolytes are great to add to water in the summer if you are outside sweating a lot or having a bit too much alcohol. Avoid electrolyte mixes with flavorings and sweeteners.

Flavored water recipes

Skip the terrible water-flavoring products and use whole foods to flavor your water.

What you eat can make the difference between a healthy, strong heart and a weak one. The right whole foods nourish and support your heart; the wrong ones make it sad.

Avoid these foods if you want to keep your heart happy.

By far, no other foods come close to the horrors that vegetable and seed oils inflict on your heart (and the rest of your body). No other dietary factor has had such a huge negative impact on cardiovascular health. Despite claims of how healthy these oils are, as they have replaced animal fats, rates of cardiovascular disease continue to skyrocket. These fats lead to massive amounts of inflammation and oxidative stress. Avoid them like the plague, including all those fake butter products, even “healthy” ones sold at the health food store. You can read more about them and see a list of them here. If you can only make one change in your diet, eliminating these toxic foods will make the most significant difference.

Fake sweeteners hurt the gut microbiome, and this can lead to heart problems. In addition, some, like erythritol, are linked to heart problems on their own. Even so-called “natural” ones (stevia, monk fruit, agave, xylitol, etc.) cause several issues. Instead, use small amounts of local raw honey (buy honey from a local beekeeper because a lot of the honey at the supermarket is adulterated with corn syrup), real manuka honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, and molasses. Excess-added sugar of any kind is not good for your heart, so don’t go crazy with these sweeteners, either. Fresh fruit is the best sweet choice (I know it’s not exciting). Try the recipe below for a nourishing dessert to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Pineapple dessert recipe

Many foods are fortified with calcium, but the type of calcium added can lead to heart problems. In addition, most foods that get this added calcium are heavily processed junk food and are not good for you. So avoid any food that claims to have added calcium. Some examples include calcium-fortified orange juice, fake milk products (instead of drinking these highly processed products, you can easily make homemade coconut or macadamia nut beverages), certain cereals, and breads.

Foods fortified with plant sterols claim to lower cholesterol and protect your heart. While they may slightly lower cholesterol, newer and better research shows they may be atherogenic. Most foods fortified with plant sterols (like fake butter spreads) contain vegetable and seed oils, the most significant dietary contributor to heart disease. Just because something may lower cholesterol does not mean it is healthy or that it reduces your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Heart health and cholesterol are more than just moving some numbers around. To learn more about cholesterol, check out our four-part series, all about cholesterol.

These nourishing whole foods can help you keep your heart pumping away. Make sure to eat some daily; you cannot just eat them occasionally and expect to get the benefits.

Your heart is a muscle that puts a lot of work in. So it needs plenty of high-quality protein and amino acids (such as taurine, carnitine, and cysteine) to function at its best. You should strive to get one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, but your ideal weight is 130 pounds, aim for 130 grams of protein. High-quality sources of protein include:

  • Grass-fed ruminant meat (beef, bison, buffalo, lamb, mutton, elk, and venison

  • Wild-caught Alaskan Seafood

    • We are often asked about “organic” and “healthier” farmed fish. There is no such thing; all of these terms are just marketing.

    • You can order really good wild fish here or check out the frozen seafood section of your supermarket. Unfortunately, fish counters often have mislabeled fish or can often have misleading fish origins.

    • Fish is packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Choose fatty fish for the most benefits. Don’t sleep on good-quality canned salmon. It’s much less expensive than fresh and has nearly the same benefits.

    • Wild mackerel is a great fish choice because it is packed with coq10!

  • Low-Pufa Pork

    • Commercial pork is very high in omega-six, and the pigs are kept in horrible conditions. Instead, choose truly pastured pork from farms that allow the pigs to roam free and eat a diet of fruits, vegetables, and foods they forage. Truly pastured pork can be hard to find in stores, so check out this link to find a farm near you.

  • Low-Pufa Chicken

    • Commercial chicken is very high in omega-six, and they are kept in horrible conditions. Instead, choose truly pastured chicken from farms that allow the chickens to roam free and eat bugs, worms, grubs, and whatever else chickens eat when doing chicken things. Truly pastured chicken can be hard to find in stores, so check out this link to find a farm near you.

  • Grass-fed dairy products

  • Pastured eggs

    • Good eggs are an excellent source of protein and are packed with nutrients necessary for heart health, like vitamin E and phosphatidylcholine. Eat the whole egg, not just the white. Eggs, dairy, and meat are not bad for your heart. They supply valuable nutrients in bioavailable forms and amounts not found in plant foods. But, unfortunately, for years, they were vilified based on terrible “science.” If you want to read more about this topic, the science behind it, and understand how people were made to fear these beneficial foods, check out this fantastic book.

  • The best vegan protein option is tempeh.

Good fats provide critical fat-soluble vitamins such as k2 (as mk-4, the form of k2 most beneficial for heart health), vitamin A (very different from beta-carotene), beneficial fatty acids, and much more. The most nutrient-dense fats are grass-fed butter, grass-fed ghee, and grass-fed tallow made from suet (most tallow is made from non-suet fat, which has lower amounts of fat-soluble vitamins).

Berries are a food your heart loves. They contain lots of nutrients and phytochemicals that give your heart a lift. When berries are out of season, it is better to choose frozen berries. They are picked when they are ripe and at their most nutrient dense. Check out our friends at Stalhbush Farms for the most delicious frozen fruits grown on their farm in Oregon. Good farming makes a better berry. If you try one of their frozen berries and compare it to a traditional frozen “organic” berry, you will understand.

Stalhbush farms quote

Stahlbush Farms uses farm waste to produce its power!

Olive oil gets talked a lot about for heart health. However, this comes with some qualifications. First, it must actually be olive oil. Most olive oil is adulterated with vegetable and seed oils (even most from the health food store). This turns it into an inflammatory food. Second, it has to be fresh. Many olive oils are rancid and oxidized. Never buy olive oils in plastic or clear containers, as light causes it to break down. Third, it has to be very high in polyphenols. A considerable part of the benefits of olive oil comes from its polyphenol content. Most olive oil is very low in these polyphenols. Look for an olive oil with testing to show it contains high amounts of polyphenols. Olive oil is best used for finishing foods, not high-heat cooking, as the beneficial compounds are easily oxidized. If you have good olive oil, it’s an excellent food for your heart. Unfortunately, the vast majority of olive oils are anything but good. If you cannot get really good olive oil, it's best to stick to olives; that way, you get the beneficial compounds without worrying about adulteration. To learn more about this topic, check out this eye-opening book.

The heart needs lots of potassium to function correctly. Excellent food sources of potassium include:

  • Bananas

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Citrus fruit

    • Citrus fruit has many flavonoids that help strengthen the vascular system and support circulation. Eat those oranges.

    • If you take prescription medications, you should avoid grapefruits as they interact with many medicines.

  • Yogurt and kefir

    • Yogurt and kefir also provide good bacteria for your gut, yay. Choose grass-fed, full-fat, unsweetened versions, and add some berries for sweetness, a heart health two for one!

Pomegranates pack a big heart health punch. This delicious fruit contains potent antioxidants that supply several benefits for the heart. Eat it fresh or get the frozen kernels; avoid the juice. You cannot go wrong getting these in your diet.

Garlic is well known for supporting the heart. Even better is black garlic. Black garlic is created through an aging process that converts certain compounds in fresh garlic into more stable and beneficial versions. Add some of it to your cooking for big benefits.

Lacto-fermented veggies help support a healthy gut and benefit your heart. In particular, lacto-fermented beets are a superstar. They support nitric oxide production, which helps to improve circulation and blood flow. Having a serving of these every day will make your heart happy.

Purple grapes with the seeds (yup, eat the seeds) are rich in potent antioxidants like resveratrol and OPCs. It’s much better to have grapes than wine to get your resveratrol because the studies showing benefits from alcohol were quite flawed, and more recent research has shown it is not beneficial. Many people got in the habit of drinking a bit too much during the pandemic, and it’s time to start cutting back.

Cherries provide beneficial compounds that can reduce uric acid levels. Increased uric acid levels can increase the risk of heart and cardiovascular problems. Choose fresh or frozen cherries, not juice.

Red-skinned apples (not red delicious, that abomination of an apple) have high levels of potent polyphenols that strongly protect the heart. So, make sure to eat the skin; that’s where they are!

Red delicious apple being thrown in the trash

Avocados are a rich source of good fats and vitamin E. Avoid avocado oil as it is usually adulterated, similar to olive oil, and most of it is rancid. Stick the fruit. Vitamin E is essential for heart health; most people do not get enough.

Beef heart is the richest food source of coq10. Coq10 is a very important compound used by the heart (and other muscles) to produce energy and is involved in a variety of important processes in the body. As we age, production decreases, so getting some in your diet is important. In addition, many people are on statins and other medicines (such as certain blood pressure medications) that deplete coq10 in the body. In those cases, getting some in your diet is even more essential. Beef heart is a great starter organ meat, as it does not taste as strong as other organ meats. If we cannot convince you to eat it, grass-fed beef heart capsules are a great whole food coq10 supplement. Check out this recipe for an easy way to get it into your diet. Take your taste buds on an adventure; I promise it's delicious!

Last but not least is our favorite heart food, cacao. Properly made cacao has soo many benefits for your heart that it’s hard to know where to begin. As with olive oil, the benefits are contingent on it being high-quality cacao. Check out our rescue cacao center to learn about choosing good cacao and how to avoid the high levels of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, etc.) found in most cacao products.

Cacao is rich in magnesium (a vital mineral most of us do not get enough of and is extremely important for heart health), potassium, and several other compounds that provide unique benefits.

The most important flavanols in cacao are the catechins, the epicatechins, and the procyanidins, which act as antioxidant and protective compounds in the body. These beneficial effects are crucial for cardiovascular health. In addition, cacao’s potent antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress in the body. This is more important than ever with our modern health challenges.

Cacao flavanols exhibit antioxidant properties, meaning they scavenge free radicals and other reactive species to protect our cells. They also encourage the activity of our natural antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione reductase (GR). In addition, cacao flavanols affect the activity of certain enzymes that can affect cytokine production. Several human studies have shown that consuming cacao flavanols improves antioxidant levels in the body and supports a healthy heart heart.

It is essential to ensure that the cacao you use is correctly tested for heavy metal content and flavonol levels. Low flavonol cacao will not have the same benefits as cacao with high flavonol levels.

One of the best ways to measure the level of flavanols present in cacao products is by the gallic acid equivalent (GAE) method. With this method, the cacao's antioxidant capacity is measured using a mixture of the compounds phosphomolybdate and phosphotungstate. These compounds react with flavonols and other compounds with antioxidant capabilities. The number of reactions that occur can be measured, given the levels of antioxidant products present in the cacao. It can also directly measure the presence of the flavanol, catechin, which is particularly important in cacao.

what to look for in a cacao product

Just one serving per day of high flavonol cacao can provide a lot of benefits.

Whole food supplements can help give your heart that extra nourishing boost it needs. However, it’s important to take them daily at the full dosage because it can take several months to start to feel the full benefits. Taking too low a dose, taking them inconsistently, or taking them for too short a time will not get you the results you are looking for.

First up is unrefined cod liver oil, a true whole-food omega-three supplement. Over ninety-five percent of the population does not get enough omega-three fatty acids. This can have a profound effect on heart health. The body's ratio of omega-six to omega-three should be less than four to one. Unfortunately, most peoples are around thirty or fifty-to-one. This imbalance causes a tremendous amount of health issues. You can read more about this here. The solution to this is to dramatically decrease the amount of omega-six in the diet and increase the amount of omega-three. You need to do both, not just take an omega-three supplement.

Unrefined cod liver oil is rich in omega-three fatty acids, vitamins A, D, and other beneficial compounds. The fatty acids and vitamins are in their naturally occurring forms. Nearly all cod liver oils are heavily processed, which changes the structure of the fatty acids into one not found in fish or food, and the natural vitamins are stripped out. True, whole-food cod liver oil offers incredible benefits. Refined, heavily processed fish oils (such as those made with molecular distillation) are not a substitute, any more than heavily processed foods are a substitute for whole foods.

Vitamin K2 (as mk-4, which differs from the mk-7 form commonly sold in supplements) is very important for heart health. Unfortunately, only a few foods contain it, and most people do not eat them. Mk-4 helps to keep the arteries healthy, promotes blood flow, and supports healthy heart valves. Unrefined, whole-food emu oil is the best source of this vital vitamin. It also contains many beneficial fatty acids and vitamins A and E. Unfortunately, nearly all emu oil supplements are heavily refined, which strips away many beneficial nutrients and compounds and will not provide the benefits that full-spectrum emu oil does.

Cardio Food is a whole food supplement containing a blend of foods (brewer’s yeast, garlic, and grape seeds) and herbs (Hawthorne berry, cayenne, green tea, bilberry, and ginkgo), that help to nourish and strengthen the heart, support healthy circulation, and reduce oxidative stress. It also contains grass-fed beef heart for a whole food source of coq10, carnitine, and taurine. Think of it as a multivitamin for your heart.

Last but certainly not least is our favorite heart support supplement, Chocolate Maca. This blend contains rescue cacao and activated yellow maca. With chronic stress being a leading cause of cardiovascular problems, maca is an essential helper for your heart. Maca helps to support a healthy response to stress, as well as support the body's endocannabinoid system. Unfortunately, the chronically high-stress levels most of us have can cause this system not to function as it should. Maca contains compounds called macamides that help to support a healthy endocannabinoid system. These compounds are not found in any other plant. Unfortunately, most maca products are poorly made and contain little to none of these beneficial compounds. Check out our blog to learn more about this. Maca and cacao are a superstar team for heart health.

It’s never too late to start working on your heart health; the best time is now! You don’t have to be perfect; going slow and gradually implementing positive changes is great. The most important thing is to get started.


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