American Hearth Month: How Your Diet Figures Into Heart Health

In a recent study, experts found out that consuming heart-friendly foods on a regular basis, along with living a healthy lifestyle, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by a whopping 80 percent. Note that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country and claims more lives than all cancer cases combined. That’s some pretty good incentive to eat well!

American Hearth Month

What is a heart-healthy diet?

  • High in Omega-3 fats, found in fish
  • High in fiber
  • High in fruits
  • High in red, green and orange vegetables
  • Low in saturated fats
  • Low in sodium
  • Low in sugar
  • Low in cholesterol
  • Low in alcohol or alcohol-free
  • Calorie-balanced to support a healthy weight.

Foods Good for the Heart

Healthy Fats

A heart-healthy diet includes moderate amounts of healthy fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are essential for the heart and overall physical and mental health. Get more healthy fats by eating:

  • Fatty fish, flaxseed, kale, spinach and walnuts (contain Omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for the body)
  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and butter made from these nuts
  • Cold-pressed, organic oils, such as vegetable, olive, corn or canola oils

High-Fiber Foods

Fiber can lower bad cholesterol. It can provide nutrients that can help protect against heart disease. It stays in the stomach longer than other foods, making people feel full for longer (and helping them eat less). Also, fiber moves fat quickly through the digestive system, so less of it is absorbed.

Fruits and Veggies

Low in calories and rich in fiber, these super foods help markedly with heart health.

Foods to Avoid

Reduce consumption of trans fats. Harmful to the heart and arteries, unhealthy fats raise blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – bad cholesterol. This leads to plaque buildup in the arteries.

Switch to more plant-based fats, particularly olive and canola oil, which contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Also, opt for lean poultry, fish, and beans instead of higher-fat meats.

Examples of foods with unhealthy fats include packaged snacks, crackers, microwave popcorn, bakery goods, vegetable shortening, and some margarine.


On average, most of us take more sodium than the recommended limit, one teaspoon a day. Reducing salt intake may help lower high blood pressure and also reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Added Sugars

These sugars are those added by the manufacturers to some food products. We know that too much sugar can raise high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. Reducing it may help reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.

This month is American Heart Month and a great excuse to recommit to taking better care of our heart through healthy eating. AllergyEasy challenges you to do at least one thing to move toward more heart-healthy eating this month!

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.