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Diet & Nutrition

Consuming a nutritious diet and living a healthy lifestyle are key to maintaining heart health and a healthy body weight.  Experts have found that avoiding foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, sugary beverages and refined carbohydrates can decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.   Live a healthier lifestyle by replacing “at risk” foods with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to foods low in fat and salt or sodium.  When you consider the benefits of eating a heart healthy diet, it is much easier to make changes in your food selection and to take action to prevent heart disease.



How do you follow a Healthy Eating Plan:


Eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, chicken or turkey without the skin, dry peas or beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.

  • Choose fresh or frozen food, instead of canned foods to keep your salt intake low as well.

Keep fish and lean meat and poultry portions to about 3 ounces (or the size of a deck of cards).

  • Bake, broil, or grill it.  Try to stay away from fried foods.

Eat foods that have less fat, less sugar, and less salt.

  • Look for low-fat, light products with low sodium on the labels.

Eat foods with more fiber such as whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, or brown rice.

  • Here are some ways to cut150 calories (ENERGY IN):
    • Drink water instead of a 12-ounce regular soda
    • Order a salad with lite dressing on the side, instead of french fries
    • Eat an egg-white omelet (example: Egg beaters), instead of whole eggs
    • Eat tuna canned in water (6-ounce can), instead of oil

Healthy Family Snacks1

  • Put sliced apples, berries, or whole-grain cereal on top of low-fat plain yogurt
  • Put a slice of low-fat or fat-free cheese on whole-grain crackers
  • Make a whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber
  • Pop some low-fat, low-salt popcorn
  • Microwave or toast a soft tortilla with low-fat cheese, sliced peppers, and mushrooms to make a mini-burrito or quesadilla
  • Blend low-fat milk with a banana or strawberries and some ice for a smoothie

Heart Healthy Cooking Tips1

  • Cook with low-fat methods such as baking, broiling, boiling, or microwaving rather than frying
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and other condiments
  • Serve fruit, instead of cookies or ice cream, for dessert
  • Add salsa to baked potatoes, instead of butter or sour cream
  • Eat fruits canned in their own juice instead of syrup
  • Remove skin from poultry and discard before cooking
  • Cool soups and gravies and skim off fat before reheating to serve
  • Use the microwave because it’s fast and adds no fat or calories



  1. We Can! Collaboration between the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute.

Additional Resources:

Check out the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Published every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these guidelines can help you build good dietary habits that can reduce your risk of major chronic diseases.

Explore some sample eating plans. These plans—the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan—help you figure out how much of each food group (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grains, meats) you need to be eating each day.