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 three of the major risk factors for heart attack:
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. By 2020, the association hopes to improve the heart health of Americans by 20%, and reduce death due to stroke and heart disease by 20%. Follow these dietary guidelines to improve and/or maintain your heart health:
Eat a variety of
fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 4½ cups each day.
Eat a variety of
fiber-rich whole grains. Eat at least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day.
protein, such as fat-free and low-fat milk products, fish, legumes (beans), skinless poultry, and lean, preferably white meats. Limit red meats and processed meat. For nuts, legumes, and seeds, eat at least four servings a week. For processed meats, eat no more than two servings a week. When eating fish, choose oily fish, like salmon. Eat at least two, 3½-ounce servings a week.
high in saturated fat,transfat, 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,
fat, and cholesterol from the first three points above.
Saturated fat should be less than 7% of your total energy intake.
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 sugar-sweetened beverages, do not have more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week.
Eat less than 1,500 milligrams of
salt (sodium chloride)
Have no more than one
per day if you're a woman and no more than two if you're a man.
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Healthy diet goals. Nutrition Center. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Healthy-Diet-Goals_UCM_310436_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed October 11, 2011.
6/5/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: 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 October 2011 by Brian Randall, 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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