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10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Prioritizing heart health is essential for women, and here are 10 simple and effective ways to keep your heart healthy! Our hearts are the center of our well-being, and nurturing them with the right foods is key to maintaining vitality and longevity. A heart-healthy diet fuels our bodies and safeguards against cardiovascular diseases.

Women Facts on Heart Disease

Here are a few questions women sometimes have about heart disease.

What is the number one killer of women?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of death in women is heart disease. It is the contributor to 1 in 5 deaths of women. And according to American Heart month facts 75% of these can be prevented.

Do women have hormonal chest pain?

Hormonal changes can cause heart palpitations and more severe heart conditions. Many women don’t realize that their risk for heart disease goes up to men’s once they reach menopause.

Find out more about how heart palpitations and chest pains increase after menopause.

How do I feel if I am having a heart attack?

While I was a research nutritionist with the Women’s Health Initiative, several of my research participants were women. Some of their symptoms were different from men’s, and sometimes, they were not taken as seriously when they got help for their symptoms.

One way to get the help you need is to know the symptoms. Here are a few great resources that can help.

This article from the Cleveland Clinic and video from the Mayo Clinic below provide some of these symptoms.

How long can heart attack symptoms go on in a woman?

It is somewhat individual, but a mild heart attack can last 2-5 minutes without rest and 20 minutes or more with more serious ones.

Let’s first discuss risk factors for women and heart disease and then discuss what you can do to keep your heart healthy!

Risk Factors for Women and Heart Disease

The first two are ones we can’t control, and the last 5 are lifestyle habits we can modify.

  • Menopause
  • Family History
  • Smoking
  • The Type of Foods That We Eat
  • Being Sedentary
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
Picture of Basket of Vegetables
Vegetables have many preventative properties.

Check out these 10 heart-smart tips for women.

10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy For Women

  1. Embrace Plant-Based Foods: Plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, soy, and whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support heart health. Aim to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal to provide essential nutrients and promote optimal heart function.

    Plants are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, soluble fibers, and plant stanols, which benefit the heart!
  2. Prioritize Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet by consuming fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout and plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. These healthy fats help reduce inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and support overall heart health.

    Consuming healthy fats that are liquid at room temperature can improve blood cholesterol and triglycerides, while less healthy fats may increase them. fat may also boost the healthy HDL cholesterol.

    Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats include olive oil, olives, pecans, and avocados.
  3. Choose Lean Protein Sources: Opt for lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, tofu, beans, and lentils to reduce saturated fat intake and support heart health. Incorporating these protein-rich foods into your meals helps maintain muscle mass, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote satiety.
  4. Limit Saturated and Trans Fats: Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats in animal and tropical fats, fried foods, processed snacks, and baked goods, as they can raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Opt for healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming, and choose heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
  5. Mindful Portion Control: Practice mindful eating and pay attention to portion sizes to prevent overeating and promote a healthy weight. Opt for smaller plates, serve appropriate portions, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to maintain a balanced diet and support heart health.

    For some people, extra weight may be linked to elevated blood pressure and increased blood lipids. It can add strain to the heart. As little as a 5-10% weight loss can make a big difference in heart health! Here is some guidance from the American Heart Association on weight and a healthy heart.

    Don’t go on a strict diet that may be harmful, and weight may be regained quickly. Work with a registered dietitian to help you make permanent lifestyle changes that benefit your health and last a lifetime!
  6. Incorporate Heart-Healthy Herbs and Spices: Enhance the flavor of your meals with heart-healthy herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. These aromatic additions elevate the taste of your dishes and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit heart health.
  7. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support cardiovascular health. Limit sugary beverages and opt for water, herbal teas, or infused water with fruits and herbs to quench your thirst and maintain optimal hydration levels.
  8. Limit Sodium Intake: Reduce your sodium intake by choosing fresh, whole foods over processed and packaged products, which often contain high sodium levels. Season your meals with herbs, spices, and citrus juices instead of salt to enhance flavor while minimizing sodium intake and supporting heart health.

    Too much sodium can elevate blood pressure. Health experts suggest having no more than 1500-2000 milligrams a day, but many Americans have between 4 and 6 milligrams a day.

    Canned, processed, and fast foods are high in sodium in the diet. A teaspoon of salt contains 2300 milligrams of sodium. Cooking fresh food from scratch can be much lower in salt. Herbs, spices, vinegar, and fruit juices can be a great way to add lots of flavor to foods without excess sodium.
  9. Practice Mindful Eating: Slow down and savor each bite during meals to promote digestion, prevent overeating, and cultivate a healthier relationship with food. Pay attention to your meals’ colors, textures, and flavors, and enjoy the nourishment they provide for your body and heart.
  10. Be Physically Active: Incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine to strengthen your heart, improve circulation, and maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week to reap the cardiovascular benefits and support overall heart health.

    The Center for Disease Control has some great resources on physical activity from the Centers for Disease Control to help get you started! This is some additional helpful information on exercise and the heart from Harvard.

Heart Healthy Herbs and Best Spices for Heart Health

I want to go more into some of the herbs and spices for heart health.

Herbs and spices, vinegar, and fruit juice can be a great way to season foods without the extra salt. Here are a few seasoning ideas to add more flavor. how to make your own seasonings (

Herbs Good for the Heart

Someone asked me to provide the three best herbs for heart health. That is as difficult as asking a mom to name her favorite child! All herbs and spices are plants, and since plants are healthy for the heart, they probably all provide some benefit! Just be sure to add them to your food.

Using them can also help you consume less salt and fat. I found this great article about their benefits that Joe Leech wrote on Healthline.

Pictures of spices that you can add to foods.
Here are a few spices you can add to make your food more flavorful!

Spices Good for Heart Health

If you are wondering what the difference is between herbs and spices, here is an excellent explanation. Herbs come from the green part of the plant, while spices come from the root, stem, fruit, flower, or bark. Here is a little more about it.

Heart Health Lunch

A collection of heart-health lunch recipes is essential to food love for your heart. You can find many plant-based recipes at the Vine Ripe Nutrition website. Here are some of my favorite quick lunch ideas with lots of heart-healthy foods:

Vegetarian Lunch Ideas for Work (

Make Ahead Vegetarian Lunches (

Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Sandwich Recipes (

Lots of Good Reasons to Love Your Heart

This heart month is a great time to learn how to look after your heart. Show some food love for your heart, and make a personal commitment to take better care of yourself.

Tobacco and alcohol also take a toll. Sometimes, long-term habits are hard to break! If you need information and support from a dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I would love to work with you and help you with lifestyle changes that improve heart health and create a healthy eating plan! I encourage clients to eat more whole food and use an integrative nutrition approach. You can find out more about what we can work on together here!

Examples of ways to nourish your heart
10 Ways Women Can Help Keep Their Heart Healthy!

Prioritizing heart health through diet and lifestyle choices is essential for women to thrive and lead vibrant lives. By incorporating these ten strategies into your daily routine, you can nourish your heart, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and promote overall well-being! Remember, small changes can lead to significant improvements in heart health, so start implementing these practices today to support a healthy heart for years to come.

Over my nutrition nutrition career, I have had the honor of helping many women prevent and manage heart disease. Some of my work has included working with research participants with the Women’s Health Iniative for almost 10 years, creating classes and counseling clients in cardiac rehab at a local hospital and also teaching cooking classes with the American Heart Association. In addition, for 10 years, I was the dietitian on the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. If you are a middle age woman working to prevent heart disease, I would love to help! You can contact me here.

In addition, I hope that the women facts for heart disease, information on spices and herbs for cardiovascular health and eat smart lunch ideas will come in handy!

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