How to Put Together a Heart Healthy Diet

Posted June 12, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

If only eating healthy was simple, right? Well, yes and no. While you can follow all the dietary rules, if you’re going to finally treat yourself, they’ll all go out the window.

What we stand by is consistency. If you remain committed to following a diet for healthy heart, you’ll realize the weight loss, lower cholesterol, and other health benefits that come with it.

Here’s our guide to mastering it all:

Control Your Portion Size

Sticking to a heart healthy foods diet starts with managing portion size. Our biggest challenge when dining out or eating at home is controlling how much food we eat. It’s hard to resist taking second helpings. To stay healthy and to help control your portion size, you should use the plate method.

Fill half the plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with healthy carbohydrates like wholegrain bread and pasta. A good way to measure your portion size would be to use your fist size for a portion of protein, half a cup of carbohydrates, and as many vegetables as you’d like.

Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

A heart healthy diet includes eating more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and phytonutrients that benefit cardiovascular health. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants and a wealth of minerals and vitamins required for healthy cells.

Eating a variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits can also help ensure higher levels of nutrition and reduce food monotony. Aim to have half of the plate vegetables, a quarter of the plate fruits, and the remaining quarter a lean protein source. 

Select Whole Grains

Whole grains are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, as well as other key components such as antioxidants and healthy fats. One great way to start incorporating whole grains into your meals is by switching out all of your white bread, pasta, cereals, and other processed grain products in favor of their whole-grain counterparts.

Additionally, you can add whole grain options such as oatmeal, bulgur, quinoa, and barley into your daily meals. Doing so will ensure that one-third of your plate is made up of whole grains, making it easier to follow a balanced plate approach.

Limit Unhealthy Fats

A heart healthy meals diet starts with limiting unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats are found in trans fats, saturated fats, and hydrogenated oils – all of which can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. To limit unhealthy fats, buy food labeled “monounsaturated” or “polyunsaturated” and stay away from tropical oils like coconut oil, palm oil, or palm kernel oil.

Instead, switch to healthy fats like canola, olive oil, and margarine made from canola or olive oil. When shopping, check labels for saturated fat content and opt for unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil. When dining out, request the cooks to use unsaturated plant-based fats for preparing meals. 

Choose Low-Fat Protein Sources

Eating a heart-healthy diet includes choosing low-fat protein sources. This helps lower the saturated fat intake, which is associated with cardiovascular disease risk. Sources of low-fat protein include fish, white-meat poultry, lean cuts of red meat, beans, legumes, tofu, eggs, and dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.

For added flavor, try marinating meats, adding herbs and spices to dishes, and using low-fat sauces and dressings. It is recommended to eat fish twice a week and try to steer away from processed meats, including sausages and hot dogs. 

Limit or Reduce Salt (Sodium)

Creating a heart-healthy diet means cutting back on sodium. Limiting or reducing salt-sodium intake can drastically improve heart health. Start by avoiding foods that contain mostly sodium, like processed foods and condiments such as soy sauce, olives, and pizza.

Read labels to be aware of sodium levels, and look for low-sodium alternatives to your favorite foods. Instead of adding salt when cooking, use herbs and spices to give dishes flavor. Skipping sodium-rich cured meats such as bacon and sausage can also drastically reduce your sodium intake. 

Plan Ahead Create Daily Menus

Planning ahead for eating both meals and snacks helps you to maintain a healthy heart. Develop a 7-day menu plan to make it easier to stick with what you are eating. Start by shopping for your groceries weekly. Include protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables in every meal.

Look for recipes that utilize spices, herbs, and low-fat preparation methods, such as baking and grilling. Make sure you also include heart-healthy snacks that incorporate salads, fruits, yogurt, nuts, and low-fat dairy. Avoid fried, processed, and sugary food from the diet.

Allow Yourself an Occasional Treat

A heart-healthy diet should include a balance of nutritious foods such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats and oils. However, allowing yourself an occasional treat is also important. A small indulgence, such as a small piece of dark chocolate or a few extra chips, can satisfy a sweet tooth or a craving without overdoing it.

You can also approach sweets and treats as part of your overall meal plan. If you balance an indulgence with other nutrient-rich ingredients, such as adding a scoop of ice cream on top of a healthy bowl of fruit, it’s possible to maintain equilibrium. 

Learn more about coughs and how this heart-healthy diet can help treat it.

Overall, a diet for healthy heart can go a long way in promoting cardiovascular health and well-being. Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fats helps maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular system. Learning how to implement these components into an effective diet is the key to developing a heart-healthy lifestyle

Read more: