A Heart Healthy Diet That Works
The food you eat can have a great impact on the health of your heart. A heart healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and beans, and HeartMart outlines several great diets such as the Mediterranean Diet. These foods have lots of fiber and important nutrients. Low-fat milk products and meats can fit into a heart healthy diet. And eating fish twice a week is helpful in getting the omega-3 fatty acids that you need.
Basic Goals of a Heart Healthy Diet
- eat an overall healthy diet
- reach and maintain a healthy weight
- achieve healthy cholesterol levels
- achieve normal blood pressure
For a healthy heart, eat more:
- Healthy fats (unsaturated fats)
- Omega-3 fats
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fish - eat fish twice per week
For a healthy heart, eat less:
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
Specific dietary recommendations of the American Heart Association are:
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man.
- Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
It is often easier to start eating healthy if you have a diet plan. Diet plans such as the Food Guide Pyramid, Mediterranean Diet, and the DASH diet are good places to start.