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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:

  • Fiber
  • 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
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium

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.


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