Manhattan Cardiology’s cardiologist, Roshini Malaney, DO, speaks to Real Simple about The 10 Top Heart-Healthy Foods You’ll Love Eating.

What is the correlation between heart health and food?

Diet plays a major role in heart health. Malaney is quoted saying, “Foods that we eat can either increase or decrease the risk of heart disease based on their composition and effects on our bodies. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for heart disease that are related to what we eat. Consuming a diet that is low in saturated fat and a high-fiber diet that is also low in calories can decrease your risk for heart disease. Foods can actually have a direct effect on your blood pressure and even how your blood clots.”

Why is it important to be conscious of what you eat?

Food and eating is a big part of our many people’s cultures and is a way we connect with others. What you eat influences your mood, behaviors, and energy levels as well as your blood pressure and your arteries. Eating foods such as vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts has been shown to decrease cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Taking charge of what you eat can actually improve your overall life, including your heart health.

How can specific foods improve your heart health?

Eating for heart health does not mean you have to eat the same 3 things every day. There are many foods that can benefit your cardiovascular system while also tasting great and keeping meals from being bland or boring.

  1. Let’s start with carbohydrates. Whole grains, while they are higher in calories, in properly portioned servings are full of fiber which helps reduce LDL or bad cholesterol. A study showed that 3 or more servings of whole grains per day can decrease your risk of heart disease by over 20%.
  2. Certain fish such as salmon and tuna which contain omega -3 fatty acids have considerable heart health benefits that actually can decrease your risk of dying from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Omega 3 fatty acids play a role and blood pressure reduction as well as reduction in triglyceride levels.  People who consume a diet high in leafy greens, such as spinach, have a lower incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  3. Plant-based diets, in general, inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut therefore cholesterol levels and are low in calories contributing to weight loss.  Fiber-rich foods such as black beans, lentils, nuts, and oat products, can produce a reduction in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Malaney is quoted saying, “Fiber makes your satiated faster and for longer and also inhibits the production of cholesterol by the liver and increases excretion of cholesterol and bile salts.”

View the original piece placement on Real Simple.

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