5 Foods for Heart Health

Heart health is central to overall good health. In Ireland, heart disease is the leading cause of death. Approximately 10,000 people die in Ireland from Cardiovascular Disease each year, accounting for 36% of deaths. Thankfully there is a lot we can do to prevent heart disease. As well as avoiding stress and moving our bodies, what we eat can really boost our heart health. These 5 main heart-healthy food groups are important to include in your diet. We can make it easy with a regular delivery of fruit, veg and groceries to your door. Explore all we have to offer here. We deliver nationwide to every address in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Check out these recipes developed specifically with heart health in mind – Heart Health Bowls and Smoothies for Heart Health.

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, chard and cabbages are exceptionally high in vitamin K and nitrates. These help reduce blood pressure and improve the function of our arteries. Studies have shown that a higher intake of leafy greens is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. We always have a good range of leafy greens in our online shop. We grow a lot of organic kale, cabbages, spinach and chard on our farm here in Galway, and we also source greens from other organic farms when we don’t have enough of our own grown produce. It’s very important to us to keep your leafy greens needs fulfilled year round.

2. Whole Grains

Choosing whole-grains over refined grains can help improve your heart health. Whole-grains (like oats, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, wholewheat flour, quinoa…) include all three nutritious parts of the grain as it is found on the plant: the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined grains (like white rice, white flour and associated products like pasta, white breads/crackers etc), on the other hand, are processed and some of the grain is removed. Wholegrain foods therefore contain far more fibre, vitamins and minerals than refined grain foods. Studies show that eating whole grains lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, which leads to a lower risk of heart disease. We stock plenty of whole grains in clever compostable packaging. Check out our range of sustainable groceries to compliment our organic fresh produce here.

3. Healthy Fats

Nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil… foods rich in unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids are crucial for heart health. They increase ‘good’ cholesterol which reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and improves your blood pressure. Cholesterol is arguably one of the most misunderstood substances. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. It can be complicated but generally foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats. Whereas plant based sources of fats like avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats.

4. Legumes

Beans, chickpeas and lentils are incredibly healthy foods. Good for you and good for the planet, not to mention affordable and filling. Legumes are especially beneficial for heart health because they are high in resistant starch (which your microbiome loves) and have been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and decrease inflammation.

5. Antioxidant Rich Foods

Berries, beetroots, tomatoes, green tea, dark chocolate… foods that are high in antioxidants are good for your heart. When we eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, our bodies use them to prevent cell damage, reduce inflammation, and protect the health of our heart.

Going Gluten Free?

It is Gluten Free day on the 13th of January. Check out our gluten free section here.

Coeliac disease affects 1% of the population, however it is estimated that only around 30% of those people are diagnosed. There’s a big difference between people with coeliac disease and people who are gluten intolerant. When a person with coeliac disease ingests gluten, even just a small amount from accidental cross contamination, their immune system will attack its own body’s digestive tissue causing pain and serious problems including the inability to properly absorb nutrients. Whereas, if a person is gluten intolerant, the consumption of gluten will cause short-term bloating and belly pain. Unlike coeliac disease, gluten intolerance doesn’t usually cause long-term harm to the body. Either way, if you are avoiding gluten, perhaps just to try and improve your gut health, here’s a quick summary of what to look out for and some tips. All the images in this post are gluten free, organic products that we stock alongside our fresh produce to make your gluten free journey a little easier.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It acts as a glue and helps foods hold their shape. It’s what makes bread and pasta dough stretchy and bouncy. Luckily there are other natural ingredients which can be used as binding agents in place of gluten. Of course it is not quite the same but yes, you can still eat biscuits, cakes, pasta and breads with a little know-how.

What to Avoid

If you are avoiding gluten, it should be clearly labelled on packaging. But you should know this list of gluten containing ingredients to make sure you know exactly what to avoid.

  • Wheat (including spelt, durum, semolina, emmer, farina, farro, graham, einkorn, wheatberries, KAMUT® khorasan wheat)
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Regular Oats (although oats are technically gluten free, they are usually cross contaminated in fields and factories with wheat so look for gluten free oats!)

What To Eat

The good news is that if you are avoiding gluten there are loads of things you CAN eat! So let’s focus on those.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Certain Grains and Flours (including buckwheat and buckwheat flour, corn and it’s flours eg cornstarch and polenta, potato and it’s flour, rice and rice flour, amaranth, quinoa, millet, tapioca…oats, when labelled gluten free are fine too…)

You just need to avoid gluten which is found in certain grains and flours. Generic oats usually have been cross contaminated with wheat in the fields, whereas gluten free oats are grown carefully to avoid cross contamination and processed away from gluten containing products. This explains why gluten free oats are a little more expensive than regular oats.

Easy Alternatives

Ready made gluten free products are getting better and better. We stock a range of gluten free pastas, bread and even pizza dough in our shop. We also have gluten free oats available. Unfortunately a lot of ready made gluten free products contain lots of strange ingredients to help bind things together and imitate wheat gluten, so we recommend always reading the label, or looking into ways to make your own alternatives. We try to source the best, organic and natural products to make your choices easy. If you are avoiding eggs, be extra careful to read the labels as a lot of ready made gluten free products contain eggs to help things bind together.

Make your own

We stock many of the raw ingredients necessary to create your own gluten free alternatives. Research tried and tested gluten free recipes online and please do share your successes (and failures) with our supportive community facebook group here. There are loads of gluten free recipes, or recipes which can be tweaked to be made gluten free on our recipe blog here. In fact most of the recipes are naturally gluten free! Do you have any top tips on being gluten free? Do share them in the comments.

Beetroot, Walnut & Lentil Ragu

Ragu is a rich, slow cooked pasta sauce, traditionally made with meat and served with a wide pasta like pappadelle or tagliatelle. Of course you can also eat it however you like – with polenta or in layers in a lasagne with a béchamel? I love it with rigatoni, those large, ridged tubes of pasta pick up the sauce beautifully. My version uses earthy beetroots, satisfying green lentils and crumbled, rich, fatty walnuts. Delicious! Did you know we sell organic lentils and walnuts in our grocery section? If you have a slow cooker, this is a good one to get going in the morning and enjoy for supper. Simply boil some pasta and you’ve got a hearty, healthy meal ready to go. The ragu also freezes well so I always make a big batch and freeze some for a rainy day. And we are not short of those right now are we?

If you make this recipe please share it with us on our friendly facebook group, and please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family of course! The illustration above is from my 2021 recipe calendar. While stocks last I’m including a free one with every book order this month. You can add my cookbook to your shopping here. Thank you.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)


I usually start a ragu with a soffritto. Soffritto is the word for gently cooking diced vegetables (usually onion, celery and carrot) in a little oil until soft to provide a base flavour to build a sauce, soup or stew from. In this case start with 1 diced onion, 1 large diced beetroot (or 2 small – just give it a scrub and don’t bother peeling, also finely chop & add the purple stalks from any leaves should you be lucky enough to have some – save the green leaves to wilt as a side), 3 diced cloves of garlic and a generous handful or two of crumbled walnuts. If you have celery to hand then definitely add a few diced stalks for extra depth of flavour! 

Sauté the diced vegetables and nuts in the tbsp of olive oil in a large pot until soft. Then add a mug of green lentils, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of thyme, a glass of red wine & a tin of chopped tomatoes. If you prefer more Italian herbs with this sauce then sub the thyme with some fennel seeds and a pinch of dried oregano. Add a tin of water or veg stock to swirl out the last of the tomatoey juices from the tin. Season with salt and black pepper.

Simmer until the lentils are cooked through then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. This will take a minimum of 30-40 minutes, but if you have time to simmer for longer, the flavours will be richer. This is one of those sauces that is even better the next day. Keep an eye on the liquid levels as the lentils will absorb a lot. Add more water/stock as needed and give the pot a stir every now and then to prevent sticking.

Serve tossed through pasta or in a warm bowl with soft polenta and wilted greens. 

Get hold of some of our beautiful, organic beetroots when they are in season, sign up for a veg box subscription!