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  • Eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 
  • A dietitan shared three surprising foods that are good for heart health. 
  • Peas, for example, are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

Eating a healthy diet can significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing heart problems.

That’s partly because diet influences whether a person is overweight, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease, Victoria Taylor, a senior dietitian at the UK-based charity the British Heart Foundation, told Business Insider. 

She endorses taking a whole diet approach to improving heart health, meaning that it’s what you eat most of the time that matters. And you may be surprised by some of the foods that can help.


“They’re cheap, and you might already have them in your cupboards,” she said.

“I don’t think that there are any superfoods. There are no kind of magic ingredients that you can put into your diet that will right all of the other wrongs that are in there,” she said. And it’s OK to have the odd indulgent snack or meal, she said.

Data shows that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, packed with colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and healthy fats, is the best diet for heart health, she said. Eating less red and processed meat is also a good idea because they contain lots of salt and saturated fat. 

Taylor shared three surprising foods that are good for heart health.


Frozen peas 

Taylor said one of her top tips to clients is to always keep a bag of frozen peas in the freezer. “They’re cheap, there’s no waste, and there’s no preparation really apart from obviously cooking,” she said. 

They’re a good source of plant-based protein and also contain vitamin C, which helps to protect cells and keep them healthy. Peas are also high in fiber: a 100-gram portion has 5g. The FDA recommends eating 28g of fiber per day. 

Most people know that fiber is good for digestive health, but it can also lower the body’s absorption of cholesterol, Taylor said. 

You can stir peas into rice, make them into a hummus-style dip, or blend them into a soup with some garlic and low-salt stock, she said. 



If you want a heart-healthier alternative to a cookie or piece of cake when snacking, go for a handful of peanuts, Taylor said. 

“We hear a lot about nuts and seeds, and often they’re quite expensive and quite exotic” she said. But peanuts are affordable and accessible for most people. 

Unsalted, uncoated peanuts are a rich source of unsaturated fats, particularly monounsaturated fats, and contain fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, all of which are needed in a balanced diet.

Rapeseed oil 

Vegetable and seed oils have gotten a bad rap in some nutrition circles. Business Insider previously reported that despite one keto influencer going as far as claiming they are worse than smoking, there is no reliable data to back this up. 


Taylor said rapeseed oil, sometimes sold as vegetable oil, is a good option for heart health, particularly for people on a budget. It contains mainly monounsaturated fats, she said, which help protect the heart by maintaining levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

It’s safe to cook with rapeseed oil, and it’s cheaper than olive oil, she said. 

There’s good evidence that replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats can help to lower your cholesterol levels, according to the UK’s National Health Service

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