Eat your way to a healthy heart

Christine Junge

Former Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When it comes to maintaining or improving your heart’s health, which is more important, your kitchen cabinets or your bathroom’s medicine cabinet? You’ll probably guess your medicine cabinet. But the truth is, you should start with your kitchen cabinets, along with your pantry, refrigerator, and grocery list. That’s because what you eat influences many of the things that contribute to heart disease, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • inflammation
  • and electrical instability and function of the heart.

The foods you choose can make these factors better, or worse.

Which foods are heart healthy and which aren’t? Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart, a newly revised Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publishing, details a heart-healthy eating plan that you can follow for the rest of your life—while still enjoying the foods you eat. The report is based in part on a comprehensive review article on the subject of nutrition and heart disease that was published in the journal Circulation. This review presented scientific evidence on the effects selected foods have on the heart.

Some of the best choices include fish, vegetables, and whole grains. To see a more complete list, check out this chart.

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart also includes 39 recipes of healthy, delicious, and easy-to-make foods. Here’s one example. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Tropical Grilled Chicken Breasts with Papaya

Makes 4 servings


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, without added salt or brine
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon cilantro seed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 medium papaya
4 ounces lime juice
2 limes


1) Prepare the grill.

2) Combine the chicken, olive oil, and spices in a shallow pan. Mix thoroughly so the chicken is well covered with spices.

3) Peel the papaya, remove the seeds, and cut the fruit into 2-inch cubes. Pour the lime juice on the papaya and divide the papaya cubes among the four skewers.

4) Cut the limes in half.

5) Place the prepared chicken breasts on the grill along with the papaya skewers and lime halves.

6) Turn the chicken every three minutes until done, after about 12 minutes. Turn the papaya skewers often. After about five minutes, use tongs to squeeze the cooked limes onto the papaya skewers. Continue cooking until all sides are light brown, about another five minutes.

Nutrition information per serving
Calories 290
Total fat 18 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Cholesterol 65 mg
Sodium 70 mg
Total carbohydrate 12 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 23 g

Related Information: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart


  1. Sumerian

    Great article, I feel like a lot of people don’t understand how far healthy eating can really go. Beets are a great thing to eat that can help protect your heart.

  2. samuel gray

    Chicken recipe with papaya is really a tasty dish.I am going to kitchen with your instruction to make something like your purposed recipe.Many thanks for sharing this healthy diet related information.


  3. Theo Blanc

    I love the tropical breasts with papaya on the grill. Last time I made it, my cats got so excited … they started knocking over things all over the house, scrambling for the scraps i might leave them. they way they interact is very cute

  4. gout

    Nice post.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information on healthy heart.

  5. elni

    eat healthy food so that we may live healthy;
    easy to say, not quite easy to do

  6. Anonymous

    Canning food is a great way of preserving vitamins, we are what we eat, without a doubt!

  7. Anonymous

    The information is very interesting. It’s important to eat healthy quality food for a better health. We should also have in mind to take vitamins to supply our body all the nutrients its missing from out eating habits.

  8. Heather Smith

    I agree that people should eat green and healthy foods. This is to prevent different kinds of sickness or diseases. Eating fresh fruits and veggies are good for our health so lets keep it up!

  9. Lindy

    I have started juicing this year and its been a great way of getting my vitamins and nutrition. Plus I had a heart attack at the age of 55 so I am totally aware of the dangers of eating unhealthy now. Thanks for your site the information and recipes are great!

  10. Pharme236

    Very nice site!

  11. WLM

    wonderful article..

  12. simen

    I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. By this wonderful post i understood a great concept tht :
    “Keep in mind that it is not the amount of food that you eat; it is the quality of food that matters. ”

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    I’m grateful to find this site. It’s very helpful to maintain our health in good position. Hope you can post more.
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  14. Anonymous

    This is pretty interesting site. I glad to find this site. Nice information sharing here about healthy food. I agree with this blog, its really necessary to eat healthy for healthy life.

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