Heart Health

10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Slide 1: Focus on eating nutrient-rich foods

These days, more foods are processed or ultra processed, which leaves them with fewer nutrients. For a diet rich in nutrients, eat the rainbow. Colorful foods provide more nutrients and phytochemicals that help prevent chronic disease and maintain energy balance.

Slide 2: Eat more fruits and vegetables  

Whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned or even dried, fruits and vegetables are a vital component of a heart-healthy diet. You can eat them on their own or find ways to incorporate them into the foods you already eat. For example, add veggies to your favorite sandwich or enjoy an apple with peanut butter for a snack.

Slide 3: Choose fiber-rich whole grains

Fiber-rich whole grains are a great addition to your diet because they can help lower your risk for conditions including heart disease and diabetes. A few to try include whole-grain bread, quinoa, brown rice, farro and popcorn.

Slide 4: Eat a variety of fish

Aim to eat fish two to three times a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. Doing so can help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, heart failure and stroke. When preparing your fish, opt for grilled or baked over breaded or fried.

Slide 5: Limit saturated fat and trans fat

Instead, replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. You can find these fats in olive oil, avocados and nuts. Research shows diets that are low in saturated and trans fat but rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat can help lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

Slide 6: Cut back on added sugar

Added sweetener in food and beverages can show up as glucose, dextrose and corn syrup – to name a few. In addition to adding calories to food and drinks, excess sugar is associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and obesity.

Slide 7: Add flavor to foods without salt

Instead of using salt to flavor your food, try using herbs, spices, vinegar and citrus fruits. For example, season chicken breasts with cumin and chili powder or try making your own salad dressings and marinades with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Taking steps to lower your sodium intake can help lower your blood pressure and help you take control of hypertension.

Slide 8: Watch portion sizes

Keeping an eye on portion sizes is important for maintaining a healthy body weight. An easy way to think about portions is to follow the MyPlate method of filling half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with carbohydrates.

Slide 9: Limit processed plant-based products

Many plant-based products are ultra processed and high in sodium and saturated fat. Eating less meat is a great goal but make sure the bulk of your diet is from whole foods, rather than ones that are processed. Instead of replacing meat with a plant-based meat product, try beans, quinoa, tempeh or tofu.

Slide 10: Heart-healthy meal ideas

Here is a sample day of eating heart-healthy meals:

Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with berries and nuts

Lunch: Bell pepper stuffed with quinoa, beans, sundried tomatoes and olives

Dinner: Grilled salmon, roasted potatoes with chives and a mixed greens salad with olive oil and vinegar

Slide 11: How Edward-Elmhurst Health can help

We’re focused on helping people find long-term solutions rather than quick fixes. Our certified dietitians can help you learn how to eat heart healthy. We also offer cooking demonstrations, group lifestyle classes and weight management clinics to help people achieve lasting success. To learn more, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.