Here are the heart-healthy diet recommendations not only from the American Heart Association but also from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

  • Consume a wealth of fruits and vegetables (5 or more servings a day) and whole grains in place of at least half of the refined (white flour, white rice) grains.
  • Limit processed foods which tend to be high in sodium or salt (snack foods, soups, frozen dinners, sauces)
  • Avoid trans fats, also known as hydrogenated fats (check margarine, cookie and cracker labels)and limit animal fats (butter, creams, fatty meats, etc.) while favoring plant-based fats such as olive and other vegetable oils ( canola oil is the lowest in saturated fats) and nuts,

avocados, in moderation

  • Consume fish at least twice a week and consider some meatless meals, substituting legumes (lentils, beans, split peas), seeds, or nuts.
  • Choose lowfat dairy products
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts


Making one change and building on it may maintain or improve heart health.  This may result in improved weight, and reduced risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, as well.




February is “Heart Month” so reviewing tips on keeping heart-healthy may prevent or minimize damage from heart attacks (the biggest cause of death in our country) and strokes.

  1. Know the symptoms of heart attacks (nausea, pain or discomfort in chest and arm) and strokes (leg or arm numbness or weakness, slurred speech, dizziness, fatigue) can be a start.   Taking action quickly if these suspicious symptoms occur by calling your doctor or going to Urgent Care within 24 hours, can be the difference between life and death or disability.
  2. Know your levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight and how they trend from year to year to allow you to see if your risk for vessel disease is increasing, staying the same, or decreasing.  Check with your healthcare provider for your recommended levels, as this can vary

based on other risk factors.

  1. Eat a heart-healthy diet and stay physically active, checking with your doctor for recommended level of physical activity.

Future blogs will be devoted to the dietary habits and exercise recommendations that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.