Eat your way to a healthy heart

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away – and for good reason! A healthy, balanced diet is essential to your wellbeing, including your cardiovascular health. Using the science of nutrition, you can level up your heart health while also prioritising the nutrients your body needs to work well and feel good. Learn which foods are cardio-protective superstars while discovering new recipes to add to your repertoire.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good for your heart, with a higher intake shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease1,2.  However, if you want to pack in some extra cardiac benefits, consider eating more:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, which contain nitrates that can help reduce blood pressure and improve the function of your blood vessels (these deliver oxygen throughout your body)2,3
  • Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, as these are rich in glucosinolates, which lower cardiovascular inflammation2,4
  • Berries including blackberries and strawberries, which contain anthocyanins that lower the risk of heart disease5.

Not sure where to start? It just so happens that we’ve sourced some heart-healthy recipes that take the guesswork out of meal planning. Try this harissa cauliflower couscous salad for lunch or these apple and cinnamon muffins as your afternoon treat.


Although a wide variety of protein-rich foods are part of a balanced diet, research has shown that plant-based proteins and seafood have a greater impact on heart health6. Try to incorporate:

  • Legumes such as beans and lentils, which are high in soluble fibre and have been found to lower total cholesterol levels (a risk factor for heart disease)6
  • Nuts and seeds including walnuts and flaxseeds – these are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and can lower mortality risk associated with heart disease6,7
  • Seafood like salmon and tuna, which are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids6.

Next time you need some dinner inspiration, try out this lentil pilaf. Or if you’re short of time, whip up this six-ingredient speedy salmon stir-fry.


Wholegrains, such as brown rice and oats, are less refined than common pantry staples such as white rice and white bread. This means that wholegrains retain more of their fibre, which helps to lower LDL cholesterol (high levels of LDL are associated with heart disease)8.

Introduce extra wholegrains into your week with this one-pot veggie mac ‘n’ cheese, and shake up your snacks with these banana trail mix bars.

Flavour minus the salt

Our bodies require salt to function. However, a salt-heavy diet can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease9. For this reason, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends consuming only 5 g or one teaspoon of salt per day9 – but this doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on taste. For example, you can:

  • Supplement salt with a sprinkle of herbs and spices – different combinations could transport your tastebuds to cuisines all over the world9
  • Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado oil or nut or seed oils to dress your salads and elevate your cooking10 – these types of fats have health-promoting effects, but are best consumed in small amounts
  • Consider using the FoodSwitch app to scan the barcodes of packaged foods, view their salt content and get suggestions for healthier alternatives.

Need more guidance? Consider a dietary framework

If you’d like structured dietary support, you could follow the DASH or the Mediterranean diet. A growing body of research has linked these balanced dietary plans with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease1. Both emphasise eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and vegetable fats1

And if you’re in a pinch, Dineamic’s Mediterranean ready-meal range has you covered. Stash a few of these meals in your fridge or freezer to lessen your chance of resorting to takeaway foods when you’re pressed for time.

A bonus ingredient for success

Whatever food swaps or recipes you try, there is one key ‘ingredient’ needed for sustainable lifestyle changes – consistency. Aim to make changes that you enjoy and can maintain most of the time, and if in doubt book an appointment with your GP for tailored dietary and lifestyle advice, along with a routine heart health check-up. For more insights on simple lifestyle changes for a healthier heart, read our ‘Tips to strengthen your heart health’ article.

Working together to protect health

Zurich Evolve is our approach to health with a focus on diet as one of the core foundations for healthy living. Studies show making changes to your diet can have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing as well as play a role in managing conditions like diabetes and obesity. Wherever you may be in your journey, we’re here to help you stay healthy and feel healthier with Zurich Evolve. 


1. Harvard Health Publishing, ‘Heart-healthy foods: What to eat and what to avoid’, 2023.

2. Zurbua A, Au-Yeung F, Mejia S, Khan T, Vuksan V, Jovanovski E, Leiter L, Kendall C, Jenkins D, Sievenpiper J. ‘Relation of different fruit and vegetable sources with incident cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies’, Journal of the American Heart Association, 9:e017728, 2020, doi:

3. Sweazea K, Johnston C, Miller B, Gumpricht E. ‘Nitrate-rich fruit and vegetable supplement reduces blood pressure in normotensive healthy young males without significantly altering flow-mediated vasodilation: A randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial’, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2018:1729653, 2018, doi: 10.1155/2018/1729653.

4. Zhang X, Shu X, Xiang Y, Yang G, Li H, Gao J, Cai H, Gao Y, Zheng W. ‘Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(1):240–246, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.009340.

5. Mozos I, Flangea C, Vlad D, Gug C, Mozos C, Stoian D, Luca C, Horbańczuk J, Horbańczuk O, Atanasoz A. ‘Effects of anthocyanins on vascular health’, Biomolecules, 11(6):811, 2021, doi: 10.3390/biom11060811.

6. Heart Foundation, ‘Protein and heart health’, 2020.

7.  Chaddha A, Eagle K. ‘Omega-3 fatty acids and heart health’, Circulation, 132:e350–e352, 2015, doi:

8. Heart Foundation, ‘Wholegrains and heart health’, 2020.

9. Heart Foundation, ‘Is salt bad for your heart?’, 2020.

10. Heart Foundation, ‘Fats, oils and heart health’, 2023.