Diet and Nutrition

Diet and Nutrition

Eating for a Healthy Heart  

Fats

Controlling your fat intake as well as what types of fats you eat is key to heart- healthy eating. Limit the amount of saturated fat you eat and avoid trans fat. Try to use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead in moderation. The table below should help you make healthy selections.

Monounsaturated Fats
Avocados
Almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios
Canola, olive, peanut oil

 

Saturated Fats
Whole or 2% milk
Meat fat, lard
Coconut, palm, palm kernel oils
Butter
Cheese
Cream cheese
Ice cream
Polyunsaturated Fats
Fish
Walnut, soy nuts, pumpkin & sunflower seeds
Corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower oils
Margarine without trans fat

 

Trans Fats
Stick margarine
Shortening
Hydrogenated oil
Partially hydrogenated oil
Most fried foods

Foods high in cholesterol should also be limited. These include: egg yolk, meat, poultry, and cheese.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fat that is important to include in your diet. Considered "anti-inflammatory", Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your heart. Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil. Another type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-6 fatty acid should be eaten in moderation. Corn, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils are sources of Omega-6 fatty acids.

Fiber

A heart-healthy diet should be high in fiber – particularly soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower LDL and total cholesterol levels. A range of 20 to 35 grams per day is recommended. High-fiber foods typically beanshave 2 to 8 grams per serving. High-fiber foods include:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole-grain breads, cereal, and rice
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Nuts, popcorn

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help the body repair cell damage that can lead to heart disease. Food sources include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose a variety of colors when selecting vegetables and fruits to optimize antioxidant intake. Particularly good choices are berries, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, red grapes, nuts and seeds, whole-wheat bread, and wheat germ.

Sodium

Excessive sodium intake can increase blood pressure or worsen congestive heart failure symptoms. Sodium should be limited to less than 2300 milligrams per day. Tips for low-sodium eating:

  • Avoid adding salt during cooking and at the table
  • Avoid processed food with salt such as ham, bacon, canned soups/vegetables, and frozen meals
  • Limit salty snack foods like potato chips and pretzels

Alcohol

Limit alcohol consumption. Having more than a drink or two per day boosts your risk for heart disease.