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Heart-healthy eating can support your heart and blood vessels. It can also limit things that can harm them. Eating this way can also help control your risk of heart disease. It is vital for people who have:
You can eat this way and still choose from many types of foods. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Healthy foods have high of vitamins, minerals, and other things your body needs. They have less things like salt and trans fats. These can harm vessels. They can also make blood pressure or cholesterol worse. Whole foods that are close to their normal state are:
Heart-healthy eating focuses on these foods. Processed foods aren't as healthy. These are foods in boxes, cans, or bags. They should be eaten rarely. They have little nutritional value. They are also high in things like fats and salt. Read food labels to find out how much of these the foods you eat have. Always pick whole foods first.
Here are some changes you can make.
|Food||Healthy choices...||Do not eat or eat rarely...|
|Fruits and veggies||
|Meats and Beans||
|Fats and Oils||
|Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments||
All the foods we eat have a unit of energy called calories. We must balance the calories we take in with the energy we burn. We burn energy through body functions, activities, and exercise. Weight gain happens if you eat more calories than your body uses. This is a problem because too much weight raises the risk of heart disease.
If you need to lose weight, track the calories in the food you eat. Compare those calories to the amount of calories that you burn. Make changes to balance calories and activity so that you can lose weight.
Here are some healthy habits:
When you make meals:
If you need help making these changes, talk to your doctor. A dietitian can teach you how to make changes.
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Dietitians of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Dietary considerations for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/dietary-considerations-for-cardiovascular-disease-risk-reduction. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Dong TA, Sandesara PB, et al. (2020). Intermittent Fasting: A Heart Healthy Dietary Pattern?. The American journal of medicine, 133(8), 901–907.
Finding a balance. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/calories. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Managing blood pressure with a heart-healthy diet. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Managing-Blood-Pressure-with-a-Heart-Healthy-Diet_UCM_301879_Article.jsp#.Wr1D-i7wZQJ. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Shaking the salt habit to lower high blood pressure. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Shaking-the-Salt-Habit_UCM_303241_Article.jsp#.Wr1ENy7wZQJ. Accessed February 3, 2021.
The skinny on fats. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp#.Wr1D0S7wZQJ. Accessed February 3, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 2/3/2021