Heart and Vascular Health Tips for Your Heart-Healthy Diet By Heart and Vascular Institute, April 10, 2015 A healthy diet can make a big difference in lowering your risk for heart disease. Diet advice is everywhere, but do you know how to pick foods that are heart healthy? The best food choices help control your risk factors, like your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose level. Not sure where to begin? Find out now. The Basics for Heart-Healthy Eating A heart healthy eating plan includes fresh, whole foods that are: Lower in fat Lower in cholesterol Lower in sodium Higher in fiber Heart-Healthy Fruits & Vegetables Fresh or without added salt, sugar, and fat Good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants Lower in fat and calories Cholesterol free Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each day. Whole Grains Contain fiber, B vitamins, and minerals Eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet may lower your risk of heart disease. Always read food labels, and make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain. Beans Good source of protein, minerals, and soluble fiber Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol Beans come in many shapes and sizes, so add them to your soups, salads, and other dishes for a heart healthy kick. Lean Beef or Pork, Poultry, & Fish Good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals Fish and poultry without skin are heart-healthy protein choices Bake, broil, or grill — don’t fry Go for fish with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, trout, and herring. Dairy Low fat or fat-free dairy products without added sugar are heart-healthy choices Good source of potassium, which may help with blood pressure control Rich in calcium, vitamin D, and protein Choose low-fat, fat-free, and 1 percent milk, yogurt, and cheese. Fats & Oils Not all fats and oils are the same, and it’s important to know the good from the bad. “Good” fats Liquid vegetable oils like canola, olive, peanut, safflower, and sesame Avocados Nuts and seeds Can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and help to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke Nuts and seeds are easy on-the-go snacks and a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Remember, nuts are also high in calories, so keep an eye on your serving size. “Bad” fats Saturated fats, which should be limited in your diet, come from animal products and tropical oils, like: Fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, butter Whole or 2 percent milk, cream, and cheese Coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils Hydrogenated fats contain trans fats, which should be avoided Always check labels for the type and amount of fat in foods.