Cardiac Diet According to the American Heart Association

Cardiac Diet According to the American Heart Association

Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:

  • a wide variety of fruits and vegetables 
  • whole grains and products made up mostly of whole grains
  • healthy sources of protein (mostly plants such as legumes and nuts seafood; low-fat or nonfat dairy; and, if you eat meat and poultry, ensuring it is lean and unprocessed)
  • liquid non-tropical vegetable oils
  • minimally processed foods
  • minimized intake of added sugars
  • foods prepared with little or no salt
  • limited or preferably no alcohol intake

Try these daily tips that will help your family take a step-by-step approach to eating healthy.

  1. Make it fun for kids to try new fruits and veggies. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable in the grocery store each week, and figure out together how to cook or prepare it in a healthy way.

  2. Whole grains are a good option! Choose whole grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, rye bread, brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal and whole-grain cereal.

  3. Some fats are better for you than others. Use liquid vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame and sunflower oils in place of butter and solid fats whenever possible.

  4. Help your children develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. Be a good role model, make it fun, and involve the whole family in lifestyle changes.

  5. Read food nutrition labels Pick healthy foods that provide nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber but limit sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat.

  6. When you cook at home you have more control over ingredients and portion sizes, so aim to cook at home more often than eating out. Get great recipes and tips at

  7. For snack time, keep fresh fruit and pre-chopped or no-chop veggies on hand. Your family is more likely to grab fruits and vegetables over other items if they’re readily available.

  8. Enjoy fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and albacore tuna are good choices.

  9. A small handfuls of nuts and seeds can be a satisfying and healthy snack. Look for unsalted or lightly salted nuts. Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are all good choices.
  10. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients and fiber, and typically low in calories and sodium. Fresh Frozen or canned can be healthy options, but compare food labels and choose wisely.

  11. Use fresh or dried herbs or a salt-free seasoning blend in place of salt when cooking. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to add flavor to cooked foods.

  12. Package your own healthy snacks Put cut-up veggies and fruits in portion-sized containers for easy, healthy snacking on the go, without the added sugars and sodium.

  13. Cook vegetables in healthy ways that will help bring out their natural flavors, including roasting, grilling, steaming and baking. You’ll need less salt (if any) and may even turn the most anti-veggie kid into a fan!

  14. Let our heart be your guide when grocery shopping. Look for foods with the American Heart Association’s trusted Heart-Check mark to make smarter food choices.

  15. Try sparkling water, unsweetened tea or sugar-free beverages instead of sugar-sweetened soda or tea. Add lemon, lime or berries to beverages for extra flavor. 

  16. Enjoy fruit for dessert most days and limit traditional desserts to special occasions. Try a delicious smoothie, a mixed berry and yogurt parfait, or a baked spiced apple or pear!

  17. Instead of frying foods – which can add a lot of extra calories and unhealthy fats– use healthier cooking methods that add little or no solid fat, like roasting, grilling, baking or steaming.

  18. Grow fruits and veggies in your own garden. Kids are more likely to try something they’ve grown themselves.

  19. Schedule time each week to plan healthy meals. Keep your recipes, grocery list and coupons in the same place to make planning and budgeting easier 

  20. Serving size does not always equal portion size. Check the serving size and servings per container because what might seem like a typical portion could actually equal two or more servings.

  21. Get your kids in the kitchen! They’ll be more excited about eating healthy foods when they’ve been involved. Give them age-appropriate tasks and keep a step-stool handy.

  22. Use frozen or canned fish and poultry for a quick and easy meal. Choose the options canned in water and watch sodium content.

  23. Try a meatless meal each week. Think vegetable lasagna or a portabella mushroom burger! Vegetables and beans can add protein, fiber, and other nutrients to a meal.

  24. Be an advocate for healthier kids! Insist on good food choices at school and childcare centers.

  25. Eating healthy on a budget can seem difficult, but it can be done! Many fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans and peas) cost less than $1 per serving.

  26. Watch out for added sugars. They add extra calories but no helpful nutrients. Sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks are the number one source of added sugars for most of us.

  27. Eat the rainbow: A fun and tasty way to make sure your family is eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables is to eat as many different colors as you can each day.

  28. Learn how to help your family be well 

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