Sodium, Fat, and Cholesterol Controlled Diet
by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD
What Is a Heart Healthy Diet?
Sodium is found in salt, which is added to food. In general, most people consume much more sodium than they need. Diets high in sodium can increase blood pressure and lead to water retention. On a heart-healthy diet, you should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day—about the amount in one teaspoon of table salt. The foods highest in sodium include table salt processed foods, convenience foods, and preserved foods. Table salt contains nearly 50% sodium.
Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance in your blood. Our bodies make some cholesterol. It is also found in animal products, with the highest amounts in fatty meat, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese, shellfish, and organ meats. On a heart-healthy diet, you should limit your cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg/dL per day.
It is normal and important to have some cholesterol in your bloodstream. But too much cholesterol can cause plaque to build up within your arteries, which can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
The two types of cholesterol that are most commonly referred to are:
Fats are calorie dense, therefore they pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food. Even though fats should be limited due to their high calorie content, not all fats are bad. In fact, some fats are quite healthful. Fat can be broken down into four main types.
It is generally recommended that you limit your total fat for the day to less than 25%-35% of your total calories. If you follow an 1,800-calorie heart healthy diet, for example, this would mean 60 grams of fat or less per day.
Saturated fat and trans fat in your diet raises your blood cholesterol the most, much more than dietary cholesterol does. For this reason, on a heart-healthy diet, less than 7% of your calories should come from saturated fat and ideally 0% from trans fat. On an 1,800-calorie diet, this translates into less than 14 grams of saturated fat per day, leaving 46 grams of fat to come from mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Food Choices on a Heart Healthy Diet TOP
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Heart Association
Dietitians of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, Lichtenstein AH, Appel LJ, et al. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;114(1):82-96.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health..... Accessed February 15, 2013.
Dietary recommendations for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated February 14. 2013. Accessed February 15, 2013.
What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.o.... Updated February 8, 2013. Accessed Febrary 15, 2013.
Last reviewed February 2013 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 2/15/2013