Anyone who wants to lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease
Sodium is a mineral found in many foods. In general, most people consume much more sodium than they need. Diets high in sodium can increase blood pressure and lead to edema (water retention). On a heart-healthy diet you should consume no more than 2,300 mg (milligrams) of sodium per day—about the amount in one teaspoon of table salt. The foods highest in sodium include table salt (about 50% sodium), processed foods, convenience foods, and preserved foods.
Cholesterol is a fat-like, waxy substance in your blood. Our bodies make some cholesterol. It is also found in animal products, with the highest amounts in fatty meat, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese, shellfish, and organ meats. On a heart-healthy diet, you should limit your cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg per day.
It is normal and important to have some cholesterol in your bloodstream. But too much cholesterol can cause plaque to build up within your arteries, which can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
The two types of cholesterol that are most commonly referred to are:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
—Also known as “bad” cholesterol, this is the cholesterol that tends to build up along your arteries. Bad cholesterol levels are increased by eating fats that are saturated or hydrogenated. Optimal level of this cholesterol is less than 100. Over 130 starts to get risky for heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
—Also known as “good” cholesterol, this type of cholesterol actually carries cholesterol away from your arteries and may, therefore, help lower your risk of having a heart attack. You want this level to be high (ideally greater than 60). It is a risk to have a level less than 40. You can raise this good cholesterol by eating olive oil, canola oil, avocados, or nuts. Exercise raises this level, too.
Fat is calorie dense and packs a lot of calories into a small amount of food. Even though fats should be limited due to their high calorie content, not all fats are bad. In fact, some fats are quite healthful. Fat can be broken down into four main types.
The “good-for-you” fats are:
—found in oils such as olive and canola, avocados, and nuts and natural nut butters; can decrease cholesterol levels, while keeping levels of HDL cholesterol high
—found in oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and sesame; can decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol
Omega-3 fatty acids
—particularly those found in fatty fish (such as salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines); can decrease risk of arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels, and slightly lower blood pressure
The fats that you want to limit are:
—found in animal products, many fast foods, and a few vegetables; increases total blood cholesterol, including LDL levels
that are saturated include: butter, lard, whole-milk dairy products, meat fat, and poultry skin
that are saturated include: hydrogenated shortening, palm oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter
Hydrogenated or “trans” fat
—found in margarine and vegetable shortening, most shelf stable snack foods, and fried foods; increases LDL and decreases HDL
It is generally recommended that you limit your total fat for the day to less than 30% of your total calories. If you follow an 1800-calorie heart healthy diet, for example, this would mean 60 grams of fat or less per day.
Saturated fat and trans fat in your diet raises your blood cholesterol the most, much more than dietary cholesterol does. For this reason, on a heart-healthy diet, less than 7% of your calories should come from saturated fat and ideally 0% from trans fat. On an 1800-calorie diet, this translates into less than 14 grams of saturated fat per day, leaving 46 grams of fat to come from mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Quick breads, self-rising flour, and biscuit mixes
Regular bread crumbs
Instant hot cereals
Commercially prepared rice, pasta, or stuffing mixes
Most fresh, frozen, and low-sodium canned vegetables
Low-sodium and salt-free vegetable juices
Canned vegetables if unsalted or rinsed
Regular canned vegetables and juices, including sauerkraut and pickled vegetables
Frozen vegetables with sauces
Commercially prepared potato and vegetable mixes
Most fresh, frozen, and canned fruits
All fruit juices
Fruits processed with salt or sodium
Nonfat or low-fat (1%) milk
Nonfat or low-fat yogurt
Cottage cheese, low-fat ricotta, cheeses labeled as low-fat and low-sodium
Reduced-fat (2%) milk
Malted and chocolate milk
Full fat yogurt
Most cheeses (unless low-fat and low salt)
Buttermilk (no more than 1 cup per week)
Meats and Beans
Lean cuts of fresh or frozen beef, veal, lamb, or pork (look for the word “loin”)
Fresh or frozen poultry without the skin
Fresh or frozen fish and some shellfish
Egg whites and egg substitutes (Limit whole eggs to three per week)
Nuts or seeds (unsalted, dry-roasted), low-sodium peanut butter
Dried peas, beans, and lentils
Any smoked, cured, salted, or canned meat, fish, or poultry (including bacon, chipped beef, cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, sardines, and anchovies)
Breaded and/or fried fish or meats
Canned peas, beans, and lentils
Fats and Oils
Olive oil and canola oil
Low-sodium, low-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise
Butter, margarine, coconut and palm oils, bacon fat
Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments
Low-sodium or unsalted versions of broths, soups, soy sauce, and condiments
Pepper, herbs, and spices; vinegar, lemon, or lime juice
Low-fat frozen desserts (yogurt, sherbet, fruit bars)
Sugar, cocoa powder, honey, syrup, jam, and preserves
Low-fat, trans-fat free cookies, cakes, and pies
Graham and animal crackers, fig bars, ginger snaps
Broth, soups, gravies, and sauces, made from instant mixes or other high-sodium
Meat tenderizers, seasoning salt, and most flavored vinegars
Low-sodium carbonated beverages
Tea and coffee in moderation
Commercially softened water
Make whole grains, fruits, and vegetables the base of your diet.
Choose heart healthy fats such as canola, olive, and flaxseed oil, and foods high in heart-healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, soybeans, tofu, and fish.
Eat fish at least twice per week; the fish highest in omega-3 fatty acids and lowest in mercury include salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and canned chunk light tuna. If you eat fish less than twice per week or have high tryglycerides, talk to your doctor about taking fish oil supplements.
Read food labels.
For products low in fat and cholesterol, look for:
“Fat free,” “low-fat,” “cholesterol free,” “saturated fat free,” and “trans fat free”—Also scan the Nutrition Facts Label, which lists saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol amounts.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a