Healthy Foods, Happy Heart

The relationship between our diets and our health goes beyond body weight. The food we ingest serves as fuel for our body to perform it’s best, which makes choosing foods that contain the vitamins and nutrients we need even more important for our body’s optimal health.

With February being heart health awareness month, I wanted to draw attention to foods that support a healthy heart according to the Cleveland Clinic:1

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, trout, etc.)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • Beans (black beans, kidney beans, etc.)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, etc.)

Many of the foods that promote heart health are emphasized heavily in the Mediterranean eating pattern. Evidence shows that following the Mediterranean eating pattern reduces your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease (especially important during heart month!), cancer, and diabetes, while also improving your blood pressure, eye health, and brain health, as it has been shown to protect against cognitive decline. 2-8

The Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less team at NC State University teamed up with the NC Division of Public Health to create recipes that follow the Mediterranean eating pattern, which can be found on the website The recipes are simple and delicious. For example, this brown rice salad would make a perfect side dish addition to your week-night dinner menu.



  1. 15 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet. Cleveland Clinic. Published 27 Jan 2015. Retrieved from:
  2. Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A. (2016) Benefits of the Mediterranean diet beyond the Mediterranean Sea and beyond food patterns. BMC Medicine. DOI: 10.1186/s12916-016-0714-3
  3. Schwingshaackl L, Hoffmann G, Curr Nutr Rep. 2016;5:9-17.
  4. Balls-Pedret, et. al. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015;175(7):1094-1103.
  5. Cachulo, et. al. Ophthalmologica. 2015;233:119-127.
  6. Salas-Salvado J, et. al. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):14-19.
  7. Nunez-Cordoba, et. al. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2009;169(3):339-346.
  8. Buil-Cosiales, et. al. British Journal of Nutrition. 2016;116:534-546.

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