Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
For most Americans, changing to a heart-healthy diet involves cutting total fat intake, substituting unsaturated fats for saturated and trans fats, and increasing intake of whole grains and fiber. The following aspects of nutrition apply directly to heart health:
• Decreased fat and cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that all Americans over age 2 adopt a diet in which fats account for no more than 30% of total daily calories, with no more than one-third of total fat calories (10% of total daily calories) coming from saturated fat. The American Heart Association and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommend that no more than 7% of daily calories come from saturated fats. The NCEP recommends that most Americans limit dietary cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams per day; for people with heart disease or high LDL levels, the suggested daily limit is 200 milligrams.
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• Fiber. Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet is associated with a 40-50% reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke. To get the recommended 25-38 grams of dietary fiber a day, eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Good sources of fiber include oatmeal, some breakfast cereals, barley, legumes, and most fruits and vegetables.
• Sodium and potassium. Reducing sodium intake to recommended levels, while also increasing potassium intake, can help reduce blood pressure for many people. The American
Stroke An impeded blood supply to some part of TERMS the brain resulting in the destruction of brain cells; also called cerebrovascular accident (CVA).
Congestive heart failure A condition resulting from the heart’s inability to pump out all the blood that returns to it; blood backs up in the veins leading to the heart, causing an accumulation of fluid in various parts of the body.