I am
How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart?
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart?

Fresh fruit and vegetables are some of the best foods to eat for better heart health. However, figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show most people don’t eat anywhere near enough of these foods: 

  • Vegetables, legumes and beans  
  • 94.8% of women aged over 19 don’t eat enough 
  • 96.5% of men aged over 19 don’t eat enough 
  • Fruit  
  • 77% of women aged over 19 don’t eat enough 
  • 70.7% of men aged over 19 don’t eat enough 

Eating fruit and vegetables is vital as they contain ingredients that we know help to prevent heart disease: 

  • Vitamins and minerals (micronutrients that perform essential roles in your body) 
  • Fibre (part of plant foods that can’t be broken down by digestion. However, it is needed in our diet to keep our digestive system healthy) 
  • Antioxidants (substances in food that can limit the damage to cells in your body) 


Foods packed with fibre are great for your heart; they can lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

What is cholesterol? 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses to build cells. There are two types: 

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is ‘bad’ cholesterol  
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is ‘good’ cholesterol.  

How does bad cholesterol impact your heart health?: 

  • LDL cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries and cause a fatty build-up called plaque 
  • too much plaque on the walls of your arteries can lead to blockages that stop blood from flowing properly to your heart 
  • when there is a blockage in your coronary artery, which supplies blood to your heart, this causes a heart attack. When the blood supply to your heart is interrupted, your heart muscle can die. 

Heart attacks can kill: figures from the Australian Bureau Of Statistics show that 19 Australians die from a heart attack every day. 

Protect your heart by eating more fruits and vegetables. 

A high intake of fruit and vegetables has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. Fruits like avocados and olives contain healthy fats and oils, as well as nuts and seeds; eating these can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.  

Foods that are high in healthy fats include: 

  • Avocados 
  • Olives 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Healthy oils for cooking: olive, canola, sunflower, peanut and soybean oil 

How can I eat more fruit and vegetables for a healthy heart? 

Here are some ideas to help you to get munching and crunching on the good stuff: 

  • Eat fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. We’ve all heard the term “Fresh is best”. But it’s OK to save time by eating frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Frozen options still count when it comes to eating healthy: just check the nutrition information panel on the food label. Avoid eating canned fruit and vegetables with added sugar or salt. Discover tips on reading food labels here. 
  • Make a vegetable rainbow the star of your main meal. It’s easy to add an extra serve of your favourite vegetables to lunch or dinner. Alternatively, swap some of the meat in your meal with healthy beans, peas or lentils. Go for at least three different colours, and eat the goodness of a rainbow of fresh produce. 
  • Up size the veggies. Add extra fresh or frozen vegetables to pasta dishes, soups or casseroles. If you’re cooking a sauce for pasta or meat, add grated vegetables, such as carrot or zucchini.  
  • Chop! Chop! Save time preparing your meals and get your fruit and vegetables to go: get chopping the night before or in the morning. Pre-cut vegetables make healthy snacks that are easy to carry in lunchboxes and always on hand for when you're craving something fresh, healthy, crunchy and colourful. Always store cut fruit and vegetables in an air-tight container in the fridge; that way, there's always something healthy ready and waiting for when you get hungry between meals.    
  • Add some salad to your wholegrain sandwich. Keep up the colour and crunch by adding carrot, tomato, lettuce and cucumber to your sandwich. If you love a toastie, add finely chopped onion, mushrooms or spices for extra flavour.  
  • Wear your heart on your sides. When you eat out, you can choose to eat healthily. Order menu items brimming with vegetables, including vegetable-based pasta sauce (ratatouille, vegan bolognese, spinach and ricotta), salads, stir-frys and more. 
  • Get excited for fruits with breakfast. Add chopped or frozen fruit to your wholegrain cereal or porridge; this boosts the delicious flavour of your first meal of the day, it adds colour, and, most importantly, you will help your heart to flourish. 
  • Order a side salad or a fruity dessert. When you order fish or meat for your main course, add a side of vegetables. Choose a fresh garden salad, a Mediterranean-style salad, or roasted vegetables, like pumpkin or capsicum. Go for a fresh fruit salad as a dessert when you are enjoying dinner in a restaurant. 

Remember to make it fun! 

One of our favourite tips above is to “eat the rainbow”; it's one way you can add some fun to eating well for your heart. 

The Heart Foundation has collected hundreds of recipes: on our website, you will find heart-healthy meals across many categories, including Kids, Dinner, Salad, Vegetarian, Snacks, Chicken and more. 

You might also be interested in

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

FoodTrack supports the collection and monitoring of nutrition and product data for foods and beverages in Australian supermarkets. ...

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Tasty recipes to start the day | Breakfast Recipe Booklet

Have an easy and delicious start to your day. Get your free copy now....

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Cajun veggie fritters with cucumber yoghurt

Cajun veggie fritters with cucumber yoghurt

Cajun veggie fritters with cucumber yoghurt

25 minutes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Cauliflower and cashew korma

Cauliflower and cashew korma

Cauliflower and cashew korma

20 minutes
Serves 4

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Christmas Appeal

Christmas Appeal

Christmas Appeal

Make a donation to our Christmas Appeal on behalf of a family member or a loved one and receive a personalised eCard to let them know....

Looking for that perfect gift?

Looking for that perfect gift?

Looking for that perfect gift?

Make a donation to our Christmas Appeal on behalf of a family member or a loved one and receive a personalised eCard to let them know....

Seared salmon with lentil salad

Seared salmon with lentil salad

15 minutes
Serves 4

Easy chicken nasi goreng

Easy chicken nasi goreng

Easy chicken nasi goreng

10 minutes
Serves 2

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

May 3 – 9, 2021...

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

Western Australian Cardiovascular Research Alliance

WACRA are the peak leadership body in Western Australian advancing research into heart, stroke and vascular disease to accelerate translation and improve health outcomes....

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the broad term for conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart muscle. ...

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

Moroccan vegetarian tray bake

30 minutes
Serves 2

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your kids active and set them up for healthier habits into adulthood....

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Tex Mex chicken burgers

Tex Mex chicken burgers

Tex Mex chicken burgers

10 minutes
Serves 4

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Taking your heart medicines

Know what your heart medicines are for and how to take them. ...

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

Q&A with Dr Shiang Lim

Q&A with Dr Shiang Lim

Q&A with Dr Shiang Lim

A new nanodrug to protect the heart from damage after heart attack...

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

Our corporate partners

We value the support of all of our corporate partners....

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Search through our tasty salad recipes...

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Italian recipes

Find heart healthy Italian recipes....

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

10 minutes
Serves 2

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Absolute CVD risk calculator

Absolute CVD risk calculator

The Absolute CVD risk calculator estimates the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years....