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Heart-Healthy Eating


Topic Overview

What is heart-healthy eating?

A heart-healthy diet focuses on adding more healthy foods to your diet and cutting back on foods that aren't so good for you. It is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes regular activity and not smoking.

The American Heart Association publishes heart-healthy diet guidelines for all adults and for children older than age 2.

To put these guidelines into action, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.Heart Disease: Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet.

If you already have heart or blood vessel problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, specific eating plans can help you manage those problems.

A few simple ideas

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and other high-fiber foods.
  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines. If you cannot eat fish, you can also get omega-3 fats from omega-3 eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
  • Limit salt, alcohol, and sugar.

What if you have high cholesterol?

The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet aims to lower cholesterol by reducing saturated fat in your diet.

For help with the TLC diet, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.High Cholesterol: Using the TLC Diet.

To learn more, see:.

  • TLC Diet Sample Menu.
  • High Cholesterol: Healthy Food Choices.

What if you have high blood pressure?

The DASH diet is a good choice for people who have high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure.

For help with the DASH diet, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.High Blood Pressure: Using the DASH Diet.

To learn more, see a sample menu for the DASH diet.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet can also help lower cholesterol. Like the TLC diet, it limits saturated fat. But on the Mediterranean diet, you can eat more total fat—as long as it's unsaturated. It also allows more fish oils, olive oil, and nut and seed oils than the TLC diet.

For more information, see the topic Mediterranean Diet.

How do you choose a diet?

With so many different food plans and health tips, it can be confusing to know what's best for you and your heart.

A chart that compares heart-healthy dietsClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) can help you see what foods are suggested in each plan.

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