‘I’m a heart surgeon – here are the top five foods to eat for the heart’

What you eat can influence many aspects of heart health, including blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation. Harvard Medical School offers some general guidelines to follow:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight by keeping calories from food balanced with calories burned exercising
  • Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Choose mostly whole grains instead of refined grains
  • Use liquid plant oils such as olive oil rather than tropical oils such as palm oil
  • Eat healthy sources of protein, such as from plants, seafood, or lean meats
  • Minimise added sugars and salt
  • Limit alcohol
  • Choose minimally processed foods

But Mr Shyam Kolvekar, a Cardiothoracic Surgery Consultant based in central London, has five specific heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your diet.

Fatty fish

This includes salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines. Mr Kolvekar said: “These fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and decrease the risk of heart disease.

“Aim to include fatty fish in your diet at least twice a week.”


Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries can all offer heart benefits.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. The fibre content also contributes to heart health by helping to lower cholesterol levels.”

Oats and whole grains

Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and whole-grain bread shouldn’t be forgotten about.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Whole grains are high in soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats, in particular, contain beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre known for its heart-protective benefits.”

Nuts and seeds

Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are also recommended.

Mr Kolvekar said: “These are good sources of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming nuts has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and the omega-3 fatty acids in some seeds are heart-protective.”

Leafy green vegetables

Spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard all fall under the leafy greens category.

Mr Kolvekar said: “Leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a good source of dietary nitrates, which can help improve blood vessel function and reduce blood pressure.”

It is important to note that maintaining a heart-healthy diet involves an overall pattern of eating, not just individual foods.

Mr Kolvekar added: “Additionally, reducing the intake of saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugars is essential for heart health.

“Incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet can contribute to a well-rounded and heart-healthy eating plan.”

The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook is the brainchild of New York-based Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon Dr Nirav Patel MD and Fredrik Berselius, holder of two Michelin stars and Founder and Owner of Aska restaurant in New York.

They accepted the challenge from the global medtech provider Getinge to create a cookbook that not only celebrates the physical and mental dexterity of both doctor and chef, but also serves as a unique training tool for heart surgeons, no matter what stage of their career. To find out more visit https://www.getinge.com/uk/campaigns/cookbook/flipbook/

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