We're looking for great new physicians to join our team. Click here to learn more.

Are you looking to eat a heart-healthy diet? What meals should you have regularly? The conventional wisdom over the past several decades has emphasized lower fat, lower cholesterol diets for heart health and heart disease prevention.

However, the latest research suggests that metabolic problems, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity may be playing a larger role in heart disease risk than things like serum cholesterol or dietary fat.

So what this means in practice is that for most people — especially if you're overweight, you have insulin resistance, high triglycerides — then you're going to want to aim for a diet that is lower in carbohydrates, meaning below 15% of your daily calories should be from carbohydrates.

Generally, this means first reducing the obvious things like processed foods, refined sugars, refined flours, and replacing them with more animal protein, non-starchy vegetables. Really nutrient-dense, nutritious food instead. Here are a few ideas for each meal. 

Heart-Healthy Breakfast

If we are looking at the first meal of the day, breakfast, a good example would be something like three scrambled eggs, bacon, raw sauerkraut, and coffee with heavy cream.

Notice there's nothing like bagels or toast in there. It's focusing on fats and proteins, really nutrient-dense foods.

You have the Coq10 from the eggs, which is an antioxidant that's great for heart health.

You're eating fermented food, which is the sauerkraut, that can lower inflammation and other heart disease risk factors. That's a good place to start for breakfast.

And it doesn't have to be the eggs and bacon every day either. You can also have breakfast look more like dinner with salads, seafood, meat, and roasted vegetables, that type of thing.

Heart-Healthy Lunch

Moving on to lunch. We have a chicken or shrimp salad with fresh tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Either the chicken or the shrimp option is fine.

Eating cold-water fatty fish or shellfish is great because they are really rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be beneficial for heart health. They reduce inflammation and improve other systemic markers.

It's always good to include several servings of fatty fish and shellfish throughout your week. But chicken salad is a fine option too.

Getting the fresh tomatoes in there gives you some antioxidants from the vegetables. Avocado and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to, again, reduce inflammation and boost HDL cholesterol, which is your good cholesterol.

Heart-Healthy Dinner

And for dinner, look at something like a rib-eye steak or a macadamia nut encrusted salmon with steamed broccoli and cauliflower rice.

Again sort of a common theme here. You have the vegetables, which have your fiber and antioxidants.

If you're going with a salmon option, that again gives you the benefit of the Omega-3 fatty acids.

The nuts are also very beneficial. The nuts have been associated with heart health protection for a very long time. And the macadamia nuts are again high in monounsaturated fats, so that will be boosting your HDL.

A rib-eye steak is also a good option as it's again, low in carbs, nutrient-dense, lots of vitamins and minerals, high in protein, very satiating.

Those three meals are good examples of what you would want to see for a heart-healthy diet template. Incorporating these throughout your week will help to improve your heart health over the long term. Remember things like dietary cholesterol levels and fat intake are only weekly associated with cardiovascular disease outcomes. Focusing more on the low-carb side of things will help you see an improvement in most of your cardiovascular disease risk factors. 

Access Wellness University & Certified Health Coaches

PartnerMD memberships include access to our members-only wellness program, Wellness University, which delivers more than 70 physician-approved courses and certified health coaching targeting the 4 areas most critical to your health, including stress and sleep, brain health, nutrition, and strength and mobility.

With offices in Richmond, VA; Midlothian, VA; Short Pump, VA; McLean, VA; Baltimore, MD; Greenville, SC; and Atlanta, GA, you can experience primary care built around you, one focused on wellness and prevention to help you stay as healthy as possible, as long as possible. Learn more about health coaching at PartnerMD