Why should I pay attention to diet?
What can I do to eat heart-healthy?
Eating in a heart-healthy way requires forming a pattern around food that combines balance, variety and informed choices. Making small changes and building on them over time can make a positive difference.
According to the American Heart Association, an adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim to eat at least 4 1/2 cups of fruit and vegetables per day, eat at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains per day and eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week. Also, try to get no more than 450 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages and have no more than two servings of processed meats each week.
Remember that not all fats are created equal! Aim to consume monounsaturated fats from avocado, nuts and seeds and olive oil, or polyunsaturated fats from soybean oil, corn oil, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Try to eat saturated fats (butter, meat, baked goods, high-fat dairy products) and trans fats (crackers, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, French fries and shortening) less often. And omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty or oily fish and flaxseed oil, can reduce plaque build-up in your arteries and decrease triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood.
It is also important to be aware of your sodium intake. Reducing the amount of sodium you eat can have immediate effects on your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary sodium to 2,400 mg per day. Those at risk of cardiovascular disease, though, should aim to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.
Want to learn more? Click here to view keys to maintaining a healthy diet.