Many of us sweat and toil in the name of having a healthy heart. We do cardio multiple times a week, get our heart rates up, start the oxygen pumping overtime, and leave it at that. For those looking into a healthier heart, now is a good time to get an exercise routine going. Nothing really tops an active lifestyle in terms of health.

That said, we can certainly turn to food to help us in our quest. Healthy foods can have as huge an impact on a person’s good health as junk food can on bad health. In terms of cardio warriors, there are some plant-based foods, that seem just tailor-made for eating on behalf of that vital organ. Even better, they are all versatile and crazy delicious. Here are 12 of them along with recipes from the Food Monster App!

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1. Acorn Squash

Source: Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf

Winter squashes just give off an entirely different vibe than the summer stuff, and acorn squash is one of the best. These are absolute fantastic roasted in the half shell or blended into creamy soup. They are packed with vitamin A, which keeps cholesterol from oxidizing. Try Jeanette Chen‘s Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf or Sonnet Lauberth‘s Acorn Squash Apple Soup.

2. Almonds

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Aside from being a fantastic snack all on their own, almonds make excellent additions to recipes. They have the right kind of fat—monosaturated—for protecting the heart, as well as plenty of fiber, protein and antioxidants. For multiple delicious almond recipes, try these 15 Fantastic Things You Can Do with Almonds (Besides Almond Butter).

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3. Avocado

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It’s smooth, creamy, cool and downright delectable, and amazingly, the avocado is a benevolent boon to the heart-healthy effort. Avocadoes have good fats, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium to contribute to heart health. And, it isn’t just for guacamole. It’s incredible in these Cucumber Noodles with Avocado Pepper Sauce by Tomi Makanjuola and Chelsea Vanderbeek‘s Zucchini Carrot Cupcakes with Avocado Icing.

4. Broccoli

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On pretty much every list of something healthy for us, broccoli is no stranger to contributing the heart’s wellbeing, either. Sulforaphane in broccoli reduces inflammation and protects the heart. It’s also a full of fiber and vitamins, and it has an enzyme important for muscular, i.e. heart, health. For some ideas, see these 15 Brilliant Broccoli Recipes.

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5. Brown Rice

Source: How to Cook the Perfect Brown Rice

In terms of rice, brown seems to always be the best choice. It tastes better and is way healthier. The fiber and antioxidants in brown rice are good for the heart, and the lignans are special compounds geared to fight heart disease. Learn How to Cook the Perfect Brown Rice and use it in recipes like Annie Oliverio‘s Comforting Shiitake and Kale Congee

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6. Blueberries

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Widely acclaimed for their prowess with brain health, blueberries are quality contributors to a healthy heart to boot. Plus, they are awesome additions to breakfasts, desserts and smoothies. Or, like almonds, handful just feels ridiculously rewarding. The antioxidants help to keep cholesterol under control and plaque away. Try growing your own Blueberries at Home to reap their benefits!

7. Chia Seeds

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Famed as a superfood, as well as for making vegan “eggs” for baking, chia seeds are a heart-healthy ingredient. They have the good fat, plenty of fiber and quality protein. They also work splendidly in an abundance of recipes. Try them in Emily von Euw‘s Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding, a dessert that includes three heart-healthy ingredients. You can also try them in Rachael Campbell‘s Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge.

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8. Dark Chocolate

Source: Lavender Truffles

Who knows why the gods of food do the things that they do, but whatever they were thinking when dark chocolate came to be…amen! Not only is it addictively delicious, it’s actually very healthy in moderation. It has powerful flavonoids and helps the balance between blood sugar and cholesterol. Enjoy these 15 Dairy-Free Homemade Chocolate Recipes.

9. Oranges

Source: Blood Orange Tofu Curry

Speaking of dark chocolate, few things pair better with it than oranges. Besides being full of vitamin C, oranges have flavonoids that help to lower bad cholesterol levels while raising the good ones. Oranges are good for a snack and superb in recipes. Try it in a sweet recipe like Selva Wohlgemuth‘s Orange and Turmeric Scones with Wild Blueberries or use it for savory recipes like Lorna‘s Blood Orange Tofu Curry.

10. Red Bell Pepper

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While all bell peppers have good characteristics for a healthy heart, red bell peppers have the highest levels of said characteristics. They have lots of vitamin A and C, as well as capsaicin, which helps blood flow. What’s more is they make a great vessel for stuffing like in this Lentil Stuffed Peppers recipe by Heidi Turunen and Tori Cooper‘s Stuffed Peppers with Vegetables, Wild Rice and Lemongrass recipe.

11. Sweet Potatoes

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Humble sweet potatoes get overlooked too often. They are really flavorful, both for savory and sweet dishes, and they are much healthier than outright potatoes. For the heart, they have potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Never run out of ideas with these 15 Stellar Italian Sweet Potato Recipes.

12. Walnuts

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For yet another version of healthy fats, walnuts ends our list. In addition to the fats, they are a good source of fiber and antioxidants. As for cooking with them, walnuts are good in everything from salads to pie to porridge to fudge. Check out these 15 Awesome Things You Can Make with Walnuts for ideas!

So, there you have it. A perfect slew of super ingredients to aid in those cardio workouts in their mission of keep the ticker tocking. Happy, healthy eating to all!

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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