Heart healthy eating tips from
Harvard University Health Service

These Healthy Eating Tips for your heart is an adaptation from the Harvard University Health Service. As you probably know by now heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States and Canada. If you are worried about heart disease, one of the most important things you can do is to start eating a heart-healthy diet. Changing your diet can help stop or even reverse heart disease.

At first, it may seem like there is a lot to learn. But you don't have to make these changes all at once. Start with small steps. Over time, making a number of small changes can add up to a big difference in your heart health.

Healthy Eating Tips For Your Heart:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods.
  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Limit salt (sodium).
  • Stay at a healthy weight by balancing the calories you eat with your physical activity.
  • Eat more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish.
  • What other healthy eating tips for my heart you can recommend?

    Healthy foods are ones that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients, such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Beans (including chickpeas and lentils) and whole grains (such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, bulgur, barley, quinoa, and corn).
  • Oily fish like salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines, which contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can also get omega-3 fats from omega-3 eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
  • Foods to limit :

  • Salt ( sodium). You need some sodium in your diet, but most people get far more than they need. Too much sodium tends to raise blood pressure. Processed foods and fast foods often contain a lot of sodium. Try to limit these foods and eat more fresh foods.
  • Unhealthy fats, such as saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.
  • Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products, such as meats and dairy products.
  • Trans fats include shortening, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Trans fats are made when a liquid fat is turned into a solid fat (for example, when corn oil is made into stick margarine). They are found in many processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, and snack foods.

    Trans fat is especially bad. It both raises the level of "bad” cholesterol and lowers the "good" cholesterol in the blood. Try to avoid trans fat as much as possible.

    Restaurants often use hydrogenated oils for frying foods, so try to limit fried foods when eating out.

    Cholesterol. is found in:

  • animal products,
  • eggs,
  • dairy products,
  • and meats.
  • Healthy Eating Tips
    Eating foods that contain unhealthy fats can raise the LDL ("bad") cholesterol in your blood.

    Having a high level of LDL cholesterol increases your chance of having clogged arteries ( atherosclerosis), which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack.

    Why is it important to choose a heart-healthy diet?

    Making good food choices can have a big impact on your health. Eating a heart-healthy diet can help you to:

  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Lower your cholesterol.
  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Control or prevent diabetes.
  • Improve your overall health.
  • A heart-healthy diet is not just for people with existing health problems. It is good for anyone. (But children younger than 2 should drink 2% or whole milk, not 1% or skim milk. At age 2, they can switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products.) Learning healthy eating tips now will lead you into new habits that can help you prevent heart disease in years to come.

    Click here to find a local Cardiologist.

    Return to Heart Healthy Recipes page from
    this "Healthy Eating Tips" page .

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