Eating for a Healthy Heart

It can be very difficult for people to make changes in their diets and start eating foods that are considered "heart healthy." In order to help people ease into the process of beginning to eat a more healthy diet, Wellness recommends making the following three simple changes today:

Lower the Amount of Fat and Cholesterol in Your Diet

Limiting the amount of saturated and trans fat in your diet is probably the single most important thing you can do to lower cholesterol and lessen the chance of heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) offers guidelines on their Web page for the maximum amount of fats that a person should consume to reduce the amount of butter, margarine, cream and shortening, and choose olive and canola oil when cooking.

Lower the Amount of Salt in Your Diet

Salt increases your chances of developing high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. The AHA recommends no more than 2300 mg of salt per day, which equals approximately one small teaspoon. In order to lower your intake of salt, you should try the salt substitutes that are available in the supermarket, and read labels of processed food which contains large amounts of sodium.

Increase Your Fiber by Choosing Whole Grain Foods

Adding fiber to your diet plays an important role in controlling blood pressure. Choose whole grain pasta and brown rice over regular pasta and white rice, along with a high fiber cereal, oatmeal and whole grain breads for a heart-healthy diet.

Facts about Fat

Try to eliminate bad fats from your diet, including saturated fat and trans-fat. Good fats, to be consumed in moderation, include monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.

Foods Containing Bad Fats

meat and dairy (milk fat) such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat (tallow), lard and cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2%) milk. Butter is high in saturated fats and contains cholesterol.

Palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil also contain primarily saturated fats but do not contain cholesterol.


About 20 - 25 percent come from animal fat.

About 75 - 80 percent come from partially hydrogenated fat, especially in commercial baked goods (pastries, biscuits, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts and cookies) and fried foods (fries, fried chicken, breaded chicken nuggets and breaded fish), snack foods (popcorn, crackers) and traditional vegetable shortening or stick margarine. (Soft margarine typically contain very low levels of trans fats.


Foods Containing Good Fats

Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are also found in many foods. Vegetable oils, nuts, and seafood are recommended sources of these fats.

Monounsaturated Canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, avocados and many nuts and seeds.

A number of vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil), oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout) and most nuts and seeds. The polyunsaturated fats are either from the omega-3 (for example, seafood) or omega-6 (for example, most vegetable oils) family

Omega-3* Vegetable oils, principally canola and soybean oils. Flaxseed, English walnuts, Albacore tuna, Atlantic salmon, sardines and mackerel (avoid commercially-prepared fried fish).


*Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce the incidence of CVD. AHA guidelines support the consumption of two servings of fatty fish a week, as well as vegetable oils.

For more information, visit the American Heart Association Website or the American Hospital Association Website.