Share

Heart-Healthy Diet Contributions by ColleenO

Article Revisions

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, while rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, will help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight—all of which leads to a healthier heart. This is what is traditionally known as the heart-healthy diet.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)
  • MD
  • Integrative MD
  • Nutritionist or dietitian
  • Health coach
  • Naturopathic doctor

It can be challenging to alter your diet, especially if you are trying to make big changes. Consider working with a nutritionist or dietitian to create a customized eating plan that is most likely to fit you and your life. Your doctor or naturopath may also have resources on heart-healthy eating.

... (more)

A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, while rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, will help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight—all of which leads to a healthier heart. This is what is traditionally known as the heart-healthy diet.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

For more information on heart-healthy diets, and lots of tips and how-to's, see the heart-healthy diet article.

... (more)

Modifying your diet to make it more healthful should have few, if any, side effects. If you have a serious health condition, consult with your physician or another trusted health provider before you make any drastic changes.

For many years, the American Heart Association and other major institutions have recommended cutting down on saturated fat and increasing carbohydrates. However, growing evidence suggests that it is preferable to keep carbohydrate levels relatively low while replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. For more information, see the low-carbohydrate diet article.

... (more)

American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org . Accessed December 8, 2009.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org . Accessed January 12, 2006.

Shield J, Mullen MC. Patient education materials. Supplement to the Manual of Clinical Dietetics . 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2001.

... (more)

It can be challenging to alter your diet, especially if you are trying to make big changes. Consider working with a nutritionist or dietitian to create a customized eating plan that is most likely to fit you and your life. Your doctor or naturopath may also have resources on heart-healthy eating.

... (more)

Enter section content...

The idea behind a heart-healthy diet is that it supports overall health while also helping control certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

... (more)

A diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, while rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, will help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight—all of which leads to a healthier heart. This is what is traditionally known as the heart-healthy diet.

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet or low-carbohydrate diet to be the most heart-healthy option. To find what works best for you, talk with your doctor, investigate your options, and experiment.

... (more)

The idea behind a heart-healthy diet is that it supports overall health while also helping control certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

... (more)
  1. Shah M, Adams-Huet B, Garg A. Effect of high-carbohydrate or high-cis-monounsaturated fat diets on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1251-1256.
  1. Rakel, David. (2007). Integrative Medicine. 2nd Ed. Chapter 89: The DASH Diet. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.

American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org . Accessed December 8, 2009.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org . Accessed January 12, 2006.

Shield J, Mullen MC. Patient education materials. Supplement to the Manual of Clinical Dietetics . 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2001.

... (more)

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

This type of diet is recommended for:

  • People with any form of cardiovascular disease (eg, coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, previous heart attack, previous stroke)
  • People with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Anyone who wants to lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease

The DASH diet is an example of a diet that follows the guidelines for a heart-healthy diet. This diet has been studied and results suggest that it helps control hypertension, reduce homocysteine levels, and reduce the rate of bone loss.2

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet to be the most heart-healthy option. Also, growing evidence suggests that rather than eating a relatively high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, it is probably preferable to keep carbohydrate levels relatively low while replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.1 See the article on Low-Carbohydrate Diet for more information.

... (more)

Check out these lists for general recommendations for foods to eat and foods to avoid. If you're ready to take action, follow these steps:

  1. Go through these lists and circle the foods you eat often.
  2. Of the foods you circled, cross out the ones that are on the "foods to avoid" lists. Think about how you can eat less or or cut them out of your diet altogether.
  3. Make yourself a shopping list from the foods you circled on the "recommended foods" lists.
  4. Go back through the recommended foods lists and mark foods you haven't eaten in a while or would like to try. Add those to your shopping list.
  5. Review your shopping list and think of different dishes you might make from those foods. Add other ingredients you might need.
  6. If you need some recipes for guidance and inspiration, look through old cookbooks, go online, and consult with friends. Consider working with a nutritionist, dietitian or health coach.
  7. If you need extra motivation with your shopping and cooking tasks, recruit a friend or family member to join you. By working together on healthy tasks, you'll be doing each other a favor.

Grains

Whole grains and products made from them are better than refined grains and products made from refined flours. See "How to eat healthy grains" for more info and tips.

Recommended foods:

  • Breads and rolls without salted tops
  • Most dry and cooked cereals
  • Unsalted crackers and breadsticks
  • Low-sodium or homemade breadcrumbs or stuffing
  • All rice and pastas

Foods to avoid:

  • Breads, rolls, and crackers with salted tops
  • High-fat baked goods (eg, muffins, donuts, pastries)
  • Quick breads, self-rising flour, and biscuit mixes
  • Regular bread crumbs
  • Instant hot cereals
  • Commercially prepared rice, pasta, or stuffing mixes

Vegetables

Choose local and/or organic vegetables and fruits whenever you can. Know which foods are in season where you live, and choose accordingly--your food will be fresher and less expensive. See "How to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables" for more info and tips.

Recommended foods:

  • Most fresh, frozen, and low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Low-sodium and salt-free vegetable juices
  • Canned vegetables if unsalted or rinsed

Foods to avoid:

  • Regular canned vegetables and juices, including sauerkraut and pickled vegetables
  • Frozen vegetables with sauces
  • Commercially prepared potato and vegetable mixes

Fruits

Choose local and/or organic vegetables and fruits whenever you can. Know which foods are in season where you live, and choose accordingly--your food will be fresher and less expensive. See "How to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables" for more info and tips.

Recommended foods:

  • Most fresh, frozen, and canned fruits
  • All fruit juices

Foods to avoid:

  • Fruits processed with salt or sodium

Dairy

Choose hormone-free and organic dairy products if possible.

Recommended foods:

  • Nonfat or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Nonfat or low-fat yogurt
  • Cottage cheese, low-fat ricotta, cheeses labeled as low-fat and low-sodium

Foods to avoid:

  • Whole milk
  • Reduced-fat (2%) milk
  • Malted and chocolate milk
  • Full fat yogurt
  • Most cheeses (unless low-fat and low salt)
  • Buttermilk (no more than 1 cup per week)

Meat and Beans

Choose natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and organic meats if possible.

Recommended foods:

  • Lean cuts of fresh or frozen beef, veal, lamb, or pork (look for the word “loin”)
  • Fresh or frozen poultry without the skin
  • Fresh or frozen fish and some shellfish
  • Egg whites and egg substitutes (Limit whole eggs to three per week)
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Nuts or seeds (unsalted, dry-roasted), low-sodium peanut butter
  • Dried peas, beans, and lentils

Foods to avoid:

  • Any smoked, cured, salted, or canned meat, fish, or poultry (including bacon, chipped beef, cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, sardines, and anchovies)
  • Poultry skins
  • Breaded and/or fried fish or meats
  • Canned peas, beans, and lentils
  • Salted nuts

Fats and Oils

Recommended foods:

  • Olive oil and canola oil
  • Low-sodium, low-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise

Foods to avoid:

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Coconut and palm oils
  • Bacon fat

Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments

Recommended foods:

  • Low-sodium or unsalted versions of broths, soups, soy sauce, and condiments
  • Pepper, herbs, and spices; vinegar, lemon, or lime juice
  • Low-fat frozen desserts (yogurt, sherbet, fruit bars)
  • Sugar, cocoa powder, honey, syrup, jam, and preserves
  • Low-fat, trans-fat free cookies, cakes, and pies
  • Graham and animal crackers, fig bars, ginger snaps

Foods to avoid:

  • High-fat desserts
  • Broth, soups, gravies, and sauces, made from instant mixes or other high-sodium ingredients
  • Salted snack foods
  • Canned olives
  • Meat tenderizers, seasoning salt, and most flavored vinegars

Beverages

Keep in mind that alcohol should be consumed in moderation, and caffeine from beverages such as coffee and tea may cause or worsen an arrhythmia.

Recommended beverages:

  • Low-sodium carbonated beverages
  • Tea and coffee in moderation
  • Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, etc.

Beverages to avoid:

  • Commercially softened water
... (more)
  1. Shah M, Adams-Huet B, Garg A. Effect of high-carbohydrate or high-cis-monounsaturated fat diets on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1251-1256.
  1. Rakel, David. (2007). Integrative Medicine. 2nd Ed. Chapter 89: The DASH Diet. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.

American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org . Accessed December 8, 2009.

American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org . Accessed January 12, 2006.

Shield J, Mullen MC. Patient education materials. Supplement to the Manual of Clinical Dietetics . 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2001.

... (more)

What is typically called a "heart-healthy diet" involves limiting sodium, certain types of fat, and cholesterol, while emphasizing more healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

This type of diet is recommended for:

  • People with any form of cardiovascular disease (eg, coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, previous heart attack, previous stroke)
  • People with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Anyone who wants to lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease

The DASH diet is an example of a diet that follows the guidelines for a heart-healthy diet. This diet has been studied and results suggest that it helps control hypertension, reduce homocysteine levels, and reduce the rate of bone loss.2

Because of the link between diabetes and heart disease, some experts consider a low-glycemic diet to be the most heart-healthy option. Also, growing evidence suggests that rather than eating a relatively high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, it is probably preferable to keep carbohydrate levels relatively low while replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.1 See the article on Low-Carbohydrate Diet for more information.

... (more)

Modifying your diet to make it more healthful should have few, if any, side effects. If you have a serious health condition, consult with your physician or another trusted health provider before you make any drastic changes.

For many years, the American Heart Association and other major institutions have recommended cutting down on saturated fat and increasing carbohydrates. However, growing evidence suggests that it is preferable to keep carbohydrate levels relatively low while replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. For more information, see the low-carbohydrate diet article.

... (more)