Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal and some orange wedges. Enjoy a hearty bowl of bean soup for lunch. Grab a handful of peanuts for a midafternoon snack. For dinner, tuck into some grilled salmon and spinach salad drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
This menu features common foods full of nutrients believed to benefit heart health, according to experts we consulted from the Harvard School of Public Health: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology; Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology; and Dr. Teresa Fung, adjunct professor of nutrition.
But if you want to splurge on some slightly more exotic selections, try quinoa, kale, avocados, berries and dark chocolate, which our experts also mentioned. Here's why all of these foods rank high on the heart-health scale:
This whole grain is full of soluble fiber, which prevents the body from absorbing cholesterol.
"Rolled oats are good, but steel-cut oats are even better," says Dr. Fung. Steel-cut oats take longer to digest, which means they have a low glycemic index. Low-glycemic foods are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. Over time, long periods of high blood sugar can lead to health problems linked to heart disease, such as obesity and diabetes.