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Top 10 Heart-Healthy Paleo Foods

Couple giving a cheers with red wine over a healthy dinner

One of the things I love most about The Paleo Diet is being able to enjoy so many of the foods I used to think were unhealthy choices. And despite diet trends coming and going, many people get caught up with some of the less healthy versions along with the inaccurate hype that tends to surround them.

Some of the foods I now savor are ones I never would have dreamed of eating a mere decade ago, simply because I thought they were too high in fat (90s mindset), didn’t provide enough carbohydrate (endurance athlete habits), or simply because the calories might exceed what I’d need in a given day (weight-loss ideology).

Testing and trying a number of ways of eating thankfully brought me back to The Paleo Diet in 2005. Guess what? The many foods I didn’t consider are ones I’ve come to relish. It turns out they not only taste great, but are also increasingly beneficial to our health.

February is American Heart Month and there is no better diet than The Paleo Diet to promote heart health. Below are my top 10 heart-healthy Paleo foods you can enjoy if you’re looking to improve or maintain your cardiovascular health.


This fish is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the risk of irregular heartbeat as well as plaque buildup in the arteries. 1 Be sure to stick with sustainably sourced salmon when possible.


These are high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins and flavonoids, which can decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.2 Get your serving of blueberries in a sweet, 100% Paleo treat by making Fruit Roll-Ups, or freeze berries to make for a surprisingly decadent treat, all on their own!


Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes are high in flavonoids that are linked with a reduced rate of ischemic stroke caused by blood clots. They’re also rich in vitamin C, which has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, like atherosclerosis.3

Green Tea

Researchers estimate the rate of cardiac arrest decreases by 11% with consumption of three cups of tea per day.4 You may not be knocking back that much tea on the regular, but green tea is also rich in theanine, the amino acid that offsets caffeine’s effects.


Cardio-protective functions provided by the nutrients in tomatoes may include the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, platelet aggregation, and blood pressure.5 Go local and organic when sourcing this fruit in particular.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), EVOO may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. For instance, MUFAs have been found to lower your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.6 Promote heart health by upping your intake of this delicious fat in favor of relying too heavily on nuts.


This humble green is full of lutein (a carotenoid), B-complex vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and fiber to boot.7 Looks like Popeye had the right idea! Bring your spinach with you on the go by prepping mason jar salads for lunch for the work week.


Consuming half to one-and-a-half avocados a day may help to maintain normal serum total cholesterol. More evidence that good fats are good for you!8 Switch up the avocado snacks and try halves stuffed with seasoned shrimp.

Wine (Sulfite-Free)

Rich in resveratrol, studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of wine may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.9 Although wine is not technically Paleo, it may still be enjoyed occasionally as part of the 85/15 principle.

Dark Chocolate

In humans, flavanol-rich cocoa counteracts lipid peroxidation and, therefore, lowers the plasma level.10 Just make sure to get 90% dark chocolate or find 100% cacao and naturally sweeten it with coconut oil, like we did for our Chocolate Covered Banana Bites.

While it’s no surprise salmon and leafy greens make the cut for the top 10 heart-healthy Paleo foods, when there’s room for the occasional glass of red wine and dark chocolate on a lifelong Paleo regime, it’s something that many people—myself included—enjoy wholeheartedly.


[1] “The Role of Fish Oil in Arrhythmia Prevention”, Anand RG, Alkadri M, Lavie CJ, Milani RV. Mar-Apr 2008

[2] “Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”, Sarah A. Johnson, PhD, RD, CSO, Arturo Figueroa, MD, PhD, FACSM, Negin Navaei, Alexei Wong, PhD, Roy Kalfon, MS, Lauren T. Ormsbee, MS, Rafaela G. Feresin, MS, Marcus L. Elam, MS, Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, Mark E. Payton, PhD, Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, October, 2014

[3] Woollard KJ, Loryman CJ, Meredith E, et al. Effects of oral vitamin C on monocyte: endothelial cell adhesion in healthy subjects. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jun 28;294(5):1161-8.

[4] Cooper R, Morre DJ, Morre DM. Medicinal benefits of green tea: Part I. Review of noncancer health benefits. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(3):521-8.

[5] Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(1):1-18. Tomatoes and cardiovascular health. Willcox JK1, Catignani GL, Lazarus S.

[6] Lecerf JM. Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67:273.

[7] Ursula Arens, dietetician at the British Dietetic Association, Kathleen Zelman, WebMD director of nutrition. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. British Heart Foundation. British Dietetic Association. The Journal of the American Medical Association , July 23/30, 2003.

[8] Influence of avocados on serum cholesterol.[Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1960]

[9] Brien SE, Ronksley PE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA. Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. BMJ. 2011;342:d636.

[10] Wiswedel I, Hirsch D, Kropf S, Gruening M, Pfister E, Schewe T, Sies H. Flavanol-rich cocoa drink lowers plasma F(2)-isoprostane concentrations in humans. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004; 37: 411–421.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson has been an advocate for The Paleo Diet since 2011, and is the co-author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook.

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