Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women—and claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can also take an emotional toll, affecting your mood, outlook, and quality of life. While weight control and regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape—the food you eat can matter just as much.
In fact, along with other healthy lifestyle choices, a heart-healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. By adopting better eating habits, you may be able to lower cholesterol, prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure, and take greater control over the quality and length of your life.
- Bright colored fruits and vegetables
- Low fat meats, such as fish, chicken or turkey, and lean beef
- Whole grain foods and low-fat dairy (milk) products
- High fat snack foods
Look at food labels to check how much makes a serving, and how much fat, salt (sodium) and starches (carbohydrates) are in each serving.
- Serving size: This tells you how much of the food makes up one serving. If you eat more than one serving, all the other values increase.
- Fat: This is the total amount of fat in each serving. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Both are bad for your health.
- Total carbohydrate (starches): This tells you how many grams of carbohydrate are in one serving. If you do carb counting, this number helps you fit the food into your meal plan.
Cooking at Home/Portion Size
- Trim fat off meats before cooking
- Boil, steam, bake or grill meats
- Use olive or canola oil
- Watch your serving size (the amount of any food)
- Frying foods
- Butter or lard
- Cream or butter-based sauces
What you eat and how you eat are difficult to control when you eat out. Here are some tips to help you stick to your meal plan:
- Avoid fried or breaded foods
- Avoid foods cooked in butter or cream
- Order sauces and salad dressings on the side, then use only a little at a time
- Take half your meal home for another meal
- At buffets, keep the plate picture in mind and make half your plate vegetables and salad and ¼ starch and ¼ lean protein
- Share a meal or dessert with a friend or family member
- Don’t snack on the chips or bread that’s served before your meal