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Healthy Heart Nutrition

Healthy Heart Nutrition

healthy heart nutritionBy Cortney Berling, RDN

Just a few small or simple changes to your lifestyle/diet can make a life changing impact on your heart.

Foods to include in a heart healthy diet…

Unsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fat

    • Improves blood cholesterol levels
    • May benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control
    • Considered one of the healthiest fat sources in the diet and should make up the bulk of your daily fat intakeWhere to find Monounsaturated fats:– Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil
      – Most nuts (excluding walnuts), nut oils and nut butters
      – Olives and avocados

Polyunsaturated fat

    • This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils
    • Improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease
    • May also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetesWhere to find Polyunsaturated fats:– Corn oil, Soybean oil, Safflower oil, Sunflower oil
      – Flaxseeds and chia seeds
      – Flax oil and flax seeds
      – Walnuts
      – Fish(salmon, mackerel, herring and trout)

Omega-3 fatty acids

    • Lowers triglycerides
    • Protecting against irregular heartbeats
    • Lowering blood pressureWhere to find Omega-3’s
      – Flaxseeds and chia seeds
      – Flax oil and flax seeds
      – Walnuts
      – Fish(salmon, mackerel, herring and trout)Corn oi

**To reap the protective benefits of omega-3 fat, incorporate fish into at least 2 meals per week and add plant-based sources of omega-3, such as ground flaxseeds and walnuts, into your daily eating plans.

Foods to avoid in a heart healthy diet…

Trans Fat

  • Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  • Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Trans fats are commonly found in:

– Stick margarine and shortening
– Packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils: Frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers, fried foods, etc.

Saturated Fat

  • Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke

Saturated fats are commonly found in:

– Red meat
– Sausage and bacon
– Whole milk
– Cream
– Butter


  • Limit the amount of cholesterol you eat to 200 milligrams/day

Foods containing high amounts of cholesterol:

– Egg yolks- 212 mg of cholesterol
– Fatty meats
– Whole milk
– Cheese
– Shrimp
– Lobster
– Crab


  • Goal: Eat less than 2,000 milligram
  • Aim to consume foods with no more than 140 milligrams/serving
  • Foods with more than 300 milligrams/serving should be saved for special occasions
  • Remember to check the serving size
  • Caution: When dining out be aware that restaurant foods can be high in sodium
  • By decreasing sodium you can reduce fluid retention
  • Helpful for high blood pressure, heart failure and kidney disease

Foods containing high amounts of sodium:

– Table salt (1/4 teaspoon = 600 mg)
– Processed foods such as canned foods, frozen dinners, instant cooking foods, lunch meats
– Ketchup, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, etc

**Tip: Use low sodium seasonings to spice things up such as: lemon juice, lime juice, pepper, hot sauce, onions, garlic, and salt-free seasoning like Mrs. Dash

Don’t forget that exercise is a very important part of keeping a healthy heart!

The American Heart Association Recommendations…

For Overall Cardiovascular Health

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150OR
  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activityAND


  • Moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

  • An average 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week