Despite years of being told fat should be stripped out of our diets, sources of good-quality fat such as nuts, seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil feature heavily in Mediterranean diets, which are heart-healthy. Whole sources of fat such as pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and minimally processed extra-virgin olive oil are fantastic additions to your diet from a heart-health perspective. Not only do they contain key minerals like selenium and magnesium, but they provide antioxidants such as vitamin E, which can protect the heart from oxidative stress.
The mechanism by which different fats affect our health is more complicated than simply turning inflammation on and off. Fatty acids modify the blood’s ability to clot and even influence gene expression of cells in our vessels. To put it simply, it’s all about ratio, but rather than suggesting we all diligently calculate our omega-3 to omega-6 percentages, my advice would be to concentrate your fat sources on whole foods such as nuts and seeds.
Here are some of the foods I regularly recommend to patients interested in heart-healthy meals: