18 of the Best Foods For the Heart

15. Extra-virgin Olive Oil

A study that looked at the incidents of heart disease around the globe found that those who followed a Mediterranean diet had less risk of heart attacks and strokes. Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet.

Eating about 23 grams (two tablespoons) of olive oil each day is supposed to lower the risk of heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat it contains. This fat helps to keep arteries clear so the heart gets enough oxygen and nutrients. Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols that work as antioxidants to protect the cells in the body.

Look for the extra-virgin varieties because they are the least processed. Use it instead of butter when cooking. You can sprinkle it on your salads or use it on green vegetables instead of butter. Make a pesto with it and serve it with pasta, or dip whole-grain bread in olive oil.

Remember that olive oil is high in calories and that two tablespoons a day is enough. It’s best to store your olive oil in a dark, cool spot in a tightly sealed container. Keeping it in the refrigerator will turn it cloudy and thick, although it does return to normal if you leave it standing for a while at room temperature.