A heart-healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation. It is about eating more—more fruits, more vegetables, more whole grains, and more unsaturated fats. When you focus on putting more of these nutrient-rich foods in your diet, there is naturally less room for the not-so-heart-friendly foods—those high in saturated fat and low in nutrients.
Healthy eating habits can help you reduce 3 of the major risk factors for heart attack:
High blood cholesterolHigh blood pressureExcess body weight
So how does this translate into your grocery list and onto your dinner plate? To help you eat the heart healthy way, The American Heart Association has created some guidelines. Follow these dietary guidelines to improve and/or maintain your heart health:
Eat a variety of
fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 4-5 servings each day.
Eat a variety of
fiber-rich whole grains. Eat at least 6-8 servings a day.
protein, such as fat-free and low-fat milk products, fish, legumes, beans, skinless poultry, and lean, white meats. Limit red meats and processed meat. For nuts, legumes, and seeds, eat at least 4-5 servings a week. For
lean meats, poultry, and seafood, eat less than 6 ounces a day. When eating fish, choose oily fish, like salmon.
high in saturated fat,
fat, and/or cholesterol,
such as full-fat milk products, fatty meats, tropical oils, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and egg yolks. Instead choose foods low in saturated fat, and cholesterol from the first 3 points above.
Try to eliminate intake of trans fats, which are found in snack foods, fried foods, and pastries.
Limit your intake of foods high in calories or
low in nutrition, including foods like soft drinks and candy that have a lot of sugars. For sweets and items with added sugar, stick to 5 or fewer servings per week.
Eat less than 1,500 milligrams of
per day. Read food labels to look for hidden salt, which may appear as sodium.
Have no more than 1
per day if you're a woman and no more than 2 if you're a man.
Note: Recommendations based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
Dietary interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 21, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2015.
Frequently asked questions about sodium. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Frequently-Asked-Questions-FAQs-About-Sodium_UCM_306840_Article.jsp. Updated November 11, 2014. Accessed July 28, 2015.
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Healthy diet goals: Nutrition basics. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Nutrition-Basics_UCM_461228_Article.jsp. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Serving suggestions from each food group. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Suggested-Servings-from-Each-Food-Group_UCM_318186_Article.jsp. Updated February 17, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2015.
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http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Leitzmann MF, Schatzkin A. Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people.
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Last reviewed July 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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