February is Heart Month

Heart-Healthy Eating Plan

Heart-healthy meal planning includes:

• Eating less unhealthy fats.
• Eating more healthy fats.
• Making other changes in your diet.

Talk with your doctor or a diet specialist (dietitian) to create an eating plan that is right for you.

What is my plan?

Your doctor may recommend an eating plan that includes:

• Total fat: ______% or less of total calories a day.
• Saturated fat: ______% or less of total calories a day.
• Cholesterol: less than _________mg a day.

What are tips for following this plan?


Avoid frying your food. Try to bake, boil, grill, or broil it instead. You can also reduce fat by:

• Removing the skin from poultry.
• Removing all visible fats from meats.
• Steaming vegetables in water or broth.

Meal Planning

• At meals, divide your plate into four equal parts:

-Fill one-half of your plate with vegetables and green salads.
-Fill one-fourth of your plate with whole grains.
-Fill one-fourth of your plate with lean protein foods.

• Eat 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. A serving of vegetables is:

-1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables.
-2 cups of raw leafy greens.

• Eat 4 to 5 servings of fruit per day. A serving of fruit is:

-1 medium whole fruit.
-¼ cup of dried fruit.
-½ cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit.
-½ cup of 100% fruit juice.

• Eat more foods that have soluble fiber. These are apples, broccoli, carrots, beans, peas, and barley. Try to get 20 to 30 g of fiber per day.
• Eat 4 to 5 servings of nuts, legumes, and seeds per week:

-1 serving of dried beans or legumes equals ½ cup after being cooked.
-1 serving of nuts is ¼ cup.
-1 serving of seeds equals 1 tablespoon.

General Information

• Eat more home-cooked food. Eat less restaurant, buffet, and fast food.
• Limit or avoid alcohol.
• Limit foods that are high in starch and sugar.
• Avoid fried foods.
• Lose weight if you are overweight.
• Keep track of how much salt (sodium) you eat. This is important if you have high blood pressure. Ask your doctor to tell you more about this.
• Try to add vegetarian meals each week.


• Choose healthy fats. These include olive oil and canola oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, and seeds.
• Eat more omega-3 fats. These include salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, flaxseed oil, and ground flaxseeds. Try to eat fish at least 2 times each week.
• Check food labels. Avoid foods with trans fats or high amounts of saturated fat.
• Limit saturated fats.

-These are often found in animal products, such as meats, butter, and cream.
-These are also found in plant foods, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.

• Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in them. These have trans fats. Examples are stick margarine, some tub margarines, cookies, crackers, and other baked goods.

What foods can I eat?

All fresh, canned (in natural juice), or frozen fruits.

Fresh or frozen vegetables (raw, steamed, roasted, or grilled). Green salads.

Most grains. Choose whole wheat and whole grains most of the time. Rice and pasta, including brown rice and pastas made with whole wheat.

Meats and other proteins
Lean, well-trimmed beef, veal, pork, and lamb. Chicken and turkey without skin. All fish and shellfish. Wild duck, rabbit, pheasant, and venison. Egg whites or low-cholesterol egg substitutes. Dried beans, peas, lentils, and tofu. Seeds and most nuts.

Low-fat or nonfat cheeses, including ricotta and mozzarella. Skim or 1% milk that is liquid, powdered, or evaporated. Buttermilk that is made with low-fat milk. Nonfat or low-fat yogurt.

Fats and oils
Non-hydrogenated (trans-free) margarines. Vegetable oils, including soybean, sesame, sunflower, olive, peanut, safflower, corn, canola, and cottonseed. Salad dressings or mayonnaise made with a vegetable oil.

Mineral water. Coffee and tea. Diet carbonated beverages.

Sweets and desserts
Sherbet, gelatin, and fruit ice. Small amounts of dark chocolate.
Limit all sweets and desserts.

Seasonings and condiments
All seasonings and condiments.

The items listed above may not be a complete list of foods and drinks you can eat. Contact a dietitian for more options.

What foods should I avoid?

Canned fruit in heavy syrup. Fruit in cream or butter sauce. Fried fruit. Limit coconut.

Vegetables cooked in cheese, cream, or butter sauce. Fried vegetables.

Breads that are made with saturated or trans fats, oils, or whole milk. Croissants. Sweet rolls. Donuts. High-fat crackers, such as cheese crackers.

Meats and other proteins
Fatty meats, such as hot dogs, ribs, sausage, bacon, rib-eye roast or steak. High-fat deli meats, such as salami and bologna. Caviar. Domestic duck and goose. Organ meats, such as liver.

Cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and creamed cottage cheese. Whole-milk cheeses. Whole or 2% milk that is liquid, evaporated, or condensed. Whole buttermilk. Cream sauce or high-fat cheese sauce. Yogurt that is made from whole milk.

Fats and oils
Meat fat, such as shortening. Cocoa butter, hydrogenated oils, palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil. Solid fats and shortenings, including bacon fat, salt pork, lard, and butter. Nondairy cream substitutes. Salad dressings with cheese or sour cream.

Regular sodas and juice drinks with added sugar.

Sweets and desserts
Frosting. Pudding. Cookies. Cakes. Pies. Milk chocolate or white chocolate. Buttered syrups. Full-fat ice cream or ice cream drinks.

The items listed above may not be a complete list of foods and drinks to avoid. Contact a dietitian for more information.


• Heart-healthy meal planning includes eating less unhealthy fats, eating more healthy fats, and making other changes in your diet.
• Eat a balanced diet. This includes fruits and vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy, lean protein, nuts and legumes, whole grains, and heart-healthy oils and fats.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

Document Released: 06/18/2013 Document Revised: 01/25/2019 Document Reviewed: 01/25/2019
Elsevier Interactive Patient Education © 2019 Elsevier Inc.


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