• Heart-Healthy Nutrition

     
     
     
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    Dr. David L. Brown, Medical City Dallas Hospital, explains how simple lifestyle changes can have an impact your heart health.

    If you're worried about heart disease, one of the most important things you can do today is to start eating a heart-healthy diet. A balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and trans fat and high in monounsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and whole grains will protect your heart by:

    • Lowering "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure levels,
    • Limiting inflammation of the arteries,
    • Warding off diabetes, and 
    • Helping you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

    If you've already experienced a heart problem, chances are you've heard about a heart-healthy diet before. But it's not enough to know what to do. You have to make changes and that's not easy. It may seem overwhelming at first.

    SecondsCount.org can help. These pages offer practical tools, tips, and support to show you how to eat a healthy diet. While you don't need to change everything about your diet all at once, the more you take these nutrition recommendations to heart, the better off your heart will be. 

    Above all, don't forget eating is fun. So, make heart-healthy eating fun for the whole family, too. It'll make you want to continue eating this way every day of your longer, healthier life.  

    Try these tips:

    • Once a day, sit down at the table together to eat a meal.
    • Once a week, take a recipe your family loves and modify it to make it healthier. It may take more than one try, but eventually you will tweak it just right so the whole family loves the healthy version. If you prefer not to cook, try healthier restaurant options.
    • Once a month, take turns planning a healthy theme meal, based on types of cuisine or holidays, such as Italian night or Mardi Gras night. Research new recipes together online, make them heart-healthy if they're not already, and even shop together for the ingredients. Consider inviting friends and forming teams to make it a cook-off challenge to prepare the best-tasting, heart-healthiest item on the menu.
  • More About Heart-Healthy Nutrition

    How to Be a Heart-Healthy Party Guest

    Who can resist the yummy holiday spread at the company lunch or the delicious appetizers at neighborhood gatherings? Oh, the desserts at the cookie-exchanges and other festivities! For many of us, watching what we eat goes straight up the chimney during the holiday season, and our waistlines suffer the consequences long into the new year. Unfortunately, overindulging and adding a few pounds in December can make it doubly hard to get back on track with healthy routines.

    Nine Tips for Planning a Heart-Healthier Holiday Meal

    The holidays are typically a time of celebration with family and food. It can be difficult to resist tempting foods prepared with unhealthy fats, sodium and excess sugar. But you can still enjoy your favorite traditional foods by learning how to make them more heart-healthy and how to budget them into your holiday plans. Try these small changes to help you maintain a heart-healthy eating plan even during the holidays.

    Salt & Your Heart: Cutting Back on Sodium May Be a Life Saver

    Did you know that the average American consumes more than twice the amount of sodium recommended by the American Heart Association? And worldwide people on average consume nearly double the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. Researchers have found that this consumption contributes to 2.3 million deaths per year from cardiovascular disease, primarily from coronary heart disease, which causes heart attack, and stroke. You can’t change your age or your family history of heart disease, but your sodium intake is a heart disease risk factor that you can do something about, starting today.

    Heart-Healthy Diet Also Reduces Midlife Weight Gain

    Combating “middle age spread” may come down to small and sometimes surprising daily dietary and lifestyle decisions, according to a new research analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study confirms what many have suspected: the diet that’s good for your heart is also good for your waistline.

    Weighing in on Heart-Healthy Body Shapes: Goodbye to Apples and Pears

    For years, people have been warned that body shape is an important risk factor for a heart attack. That is, it’s not just being overweight that counts, but also where body fat tends to accumulate most on your body. Read about a study that challenges the thinking that “apple-shaped” people are at higher risk of a heart attack than “pear-shaped” people.

    Heart-Healthy Diet Myths

    Research can be confusing, especially when it pertains to heart-healthy eating. As a result, there are many myths about how to eat for a healthy heart. If you are working hard to change your lifestyle, you want to know the whole story, don’t you? Set the record straight so your efforts will not be in vain.

    Heart-Healthy Eating Guidelines

    Following a heart-healthy eating plan may seem complicated. Try these eight tips for changing your diet to make your heart healthier.

    Analyzing Your Eating Behaviors

    Before you can change the way you eat, first look at the way you are eating now. Tracking what you eat can help you figure out your typical food choices and especially your portions. It also helps you identify whether stressors or emotions play a part in why you eat the way you do. Identifying these factors will allow you to change one part of your eating plan at a time, which will make these lifestyle changes more realistic and manageable.

    Setting Goals and Starting an Eating Plan

    Where to begin? After analyzing your eating behaviors, it is important to set small, achievable goals for yourself as part of a plan that will ensure your success. You may also want a referral from your doctor for nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian, who can help you determine realistic nutrition and weight-related goals.

    Stocking a Heart-Healthy Fridge

    The best way to begin eating healthier is to make small changes to the way you eat now. Start by stocking your refrigerator with heart-health in mind and make it work for you at meal and snack times. This will make sensible foods more accessible and will set you up for success.

    Sensible Snack Suggestions

    To snack or not to snack? That is the question. The answer? Snacks can be sensible and helpful if they supply important nutrients for your body and satisfy your hunger just enough until the next meal.

    Reading Food Labels

    The Nutrition Facts panel on food packages tells you everything you need to know about the healthfulness of a product. You just have to know what to look for and how to interpret the information. Learn more about what to ignore and what to consider carefully.

    Special Considerations for Your Diet

    When you have high blood pressure, heart failure, or heart valve disease, you should be aware of special dietary considerations that will contribute to your wellness. For many patients, these are critical for health and may even help manage symptoms and make you feel better.

    Cholesterol and Children

    Obesity and high cholesterol levels in children are becoming disturbing trends, but do your children really need to have their cholesterol checked? And, whether your child has high cholesterol or you simply want to get your kids to eat and enjoy healthy foods, there are simple strategies you can start right now.

    Heart-Healthy Dining Out

    Dining out is an American way of life. Even though you are trying to prevent heart disease, you can still enjoy a convenient, delicious meal away from home. It is often easy to exceed recommended fat, cholesterol and sodium limits with just one restaurant meal. Butmany fast-food and sit-down restaurants now offer more heart-healthy menu items, or will prepare your foods to order. You just have to know how to find the healthier options on a menu.

    Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating

    For most people, holidays are a time of celebration with family and food. It can be difficult to resist tempting foods prepared with unhealthy fats, sodium and excess sugar. But you can still enjoy your favorite traditional foods by learning how to make them more heart-healthy and how to budget them into your holiday plans.

    Heart-Healthy Antioxidants in Foods

    Some foods, such as grapes, tea and chocolate, contain special components called phytochemicals that may be beneficial to your heart health. While you enjoy them in moderation, you may be doing something healthy for your heart.

    Lightening Up Your Favorite Recipes

    Lightening up your recipes to make them more heart-healthy is the best way to enjoy your favorite foods while still living a healthy lifestyle. Try these 10 simple ways to make your recipes healthier.

    Recipes

    Eating well can taste great! Our recipes are a delicious and nutritious compliment a healthy lifestyle.

    Resources for Additional Support for a Heart-Healthy Diet

    Seek out resources for additional support to maintain your commitment to a heart-healthy way of eating.