by Danielle McAvoy

February is American Heart Month: a whole month dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and heart disease prevention. The campaign spans an entire month because it is a particularly devastating disease in the United States, with approximately 121.5 million U.S. adults having some form of cardiovascular disease. 8.  It’s also the number one cause of death, but it is almost entirely preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle. We’re here to shed light on the best foods you can eat to prevent heart disease, and how they actually work to keep your heart healthy.


Heart disease refers to a number of issues that can happen in any part of the cardiovascular system.  One of the most common problems is plaque buildup in the arteries, which narrows them and makes it harder for blood to pass through and circulate throughout the body. Chronic inflammation can also damage blood vessels by hardening and narrowing them.

Blood clots are another concern. If a blood clot forms it can block the narrowed passage, cutting off blood flow to the heart or brain. If the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen, a heart attack results. If the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can cause a stroke. Another cause of stroke is high blood pressure, which can burst blood vessels in the brain.  

While it sounds like there are many things that can go wrong, most of the symptoms stem from high cholesterol levels and chronic inflammation. Eating more of the following foods in combination with getting enough exercise, water, and sleep will help your cardiovascular system stay strong and healthy:


 1. Fatty Fish

The fish highest in omega-3s are salmon, albacore tuna, cod, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and. Omega-3 fats slow down the build-up of plaque and reduce the amount of saturated fat floating in the bloodstream.

Try one of these meals with fatty fish from our menu: 

  • SF’s Tuna Nicoise Salad w/ Lavender Vinaigrette
  • SoCal’s Grilled Salmon with Cauliflower Rice and Broccoli
  • East Coast’s Pistachio Crusted Tuna Cakes with Fennel Apple Slaw
  • Texas’ Almond Pesto Salmon Over Asparagus

 2. Walnuts

Tree nuts in general are high in healthy unsaturated fats, but walnuts in particular are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3s. Just like with fish, the unsaturated fats in walnuts help slow plaque build-up and improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Try this meal with walnuts from our menu: 

  • East Coast’s Banana Walnut Oatmeal with Tropical Fruit Salad

3. Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are loaded with anti-inflammatory nutrients. They are a good source of folate, a B vitamin that helps break down homocysteine, an amino acid that may damage the inner walls of arteries.  Preventing damage to the arteries helps keep them elastic and open, which helps blood circulate more easily.

Try one of these meals with leafy greens from our menu: 

  • SoCal’s “Grateful” Black Bean, Kale and Tahini Bowl
  • Texas’ Spinach & Mushroom Enchiladas w/ Ranchero Sauce
  • East Coast’s Black Bean and Butternut Bowl with Quinoa and Wilted Kale

4. Berries

Blueberries in particular are full of anthocyanin, a potent antioxidant that gives them their beautiful blue hue. Antioxidants have been shown to lower blood pressure, as well as interfere with the process of plaque formation.

Try one of these meals with berries from our menu: 

  • SoCal’s Chicken Quinoa Blueberry Salad
  • East Coast’s Blueberry Matcha Muffins
  • SoCal’s Chai Spiced Breakfast Quinoa with Blueberry Jam

 5. Oats (and other whole grains)

Whole grains are high in soluble fiber, which acts like a sponge to soak up cholesterol in the bloodstream and remove it from the body. Keeping excess cholesterol out of the bloodstream prevents it from ever building up.

Try one of these meals with oats from our menu: 

  • East Coast’s Dried Fruit & Nut Oatmeal w/ Fresh Fruit Salad
  • East Coast’s Banana Walnut Oatmeal with Tropical Fruit Salad

6. Dark chocolate

The polyphenols in cocoa can help calm inflammation and lower blood pressure. While this does mean that eating a chocolate bar could be good for your heart, remember that it’s the cocoa and not the sugar providing the protective benefits. Aim for dark chocolate that’s 70% cocoa or higher. 

Try one of these a la carte items with dark chocolate from our menu:

  • East Coast’s Chocolate Maca Muffins
  • SoCal’s Salted Fudge Brownies

7. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are high in the pigment lycopene. It is a remarkable nutrient that has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting, all of which are protective against a heart attack or stroke. Watermelon and grapefruit are also good sources of lycopene. 

Try one of these meals with tomatoes from our menu: 

  • Texas’ Grilled Chicken and Vegetables with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
  • East Coast’s Rustic Tomato Chicken Chili w/ Brown Rice & Quinoa

 8. Green tea

Green tea, or matcha, is high in polyphenols that have been shown to significantly lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels dramatically reduce the likelihood for plaque buildup.

Try one of these meals with matcha from our menu: 

  • East Coast’s Matcha Chia Pudding with Tropical Fruit Salad
  • East Coast’s Blueberry Matcha Muffins

At Territory, we make sure to include plenty of ingredients in our meals that will support your heart health, as well as help you meet your long term goals! To get started, head over to territoryfoods.com.

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