Nutrition for the Heart

What is a "heart healthy" diet?  A heart healthy diet is high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables, and low in saturated fat, trans-fats, added sugars, and salt. Not only does this healthy eating pattern help to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, it may also reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.


1. INCREASE FIBER: Foods that contain fiber are excellent for heart health! The fiber in plant foods binds to cholesterol in the blood and helps remove it from your system, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Research suggests that fiber can reduce your risk of gastrointestinal cancers. Fiber also helps you stay full longer, so eating a high-fiber diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Foods to increase:

•           Fresh fruits and vegetables: keep the skins on for even more fiber!

•           Beans and legumes

•           Whole grains

2. CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS: Choosing foods that contain healthy fats instead of saturated fat and trans-fats has been shown to greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, which also reduces your risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Foods to include:

•           Liquid oils like olive and canola

•           Healthier meat choices such as chicken without skin, fish and shellfish

•           Nuts, seeds, and avocado

Foods to limit:

•           Trans-fat containing packaged and processed foods and bakery items

•           High fat meats like beef, pork, and lamb.

•           High fat dairy products

•           Fried foods

3. DECREASE SALT: Eating a high-sodium diet (more than 2,300mg per day) has been linked to an increased risk for high blood pressure, and can worsen blood pressure in those who already have hypertension or heart failure. More than 70% of the salt in our diet comes from packaged and processed foods, so by choosing whole foods, you can dramatically reduce your sodium intake. When choosing packaged foods, look for low-sodium options, and aim for less than 230mg of sodium per serving.

Foods to include:

•           Fresh, unprocessed foods like lean proteins

•           whole grains

•           beans

•           fruits and vegetables

•           nuts and seeds.

Foods to limit:

•           Canned and packaged foods

•           Frozen meals

•           Fast food