Heart Healthy Eating Guidelines

Here are some heart-healthy eating tips from Dr. Roger S. Blumenthal, director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease; Don Kain, registered dietitian, Kaiser Permanente, Panorama City; and the American Heart Association:

  • Limit your total fat intake to no more than 20 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories, with most fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Use oils that stay liquid at room temperature -- canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower -- as they are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated).
  • Restrict saturated fat -- which can raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol -- to 7 percent to 10 percent of your daily calories or less.
  • Limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day (an egg yolk contains 213 to 220 milligrams cholesterol).
  • A "high-fiber" food has 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
  • Get in touch with what proper portions look like. For example, 3 ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards; 1/2 cup of a fruit or vegetable is the size of a tennis ball.
  • Choose fat-free or 1/2 percent-fat milk and low-fat or fat-free cheeses or yogurt.
  • Limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams or less a day (about a teaspoon of salt). However, those who already have high blood pressure (especially African-Americans and middle-age to older adults) should limit sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day (about 2/3 teaspoon salt).
  • When cooking at home, sprinkle salt on food at the table only after tasting.
  • Instead of salt, sprinkle on or season foods with lemon juice; vinegar (balsamic, sherry, rice wine); chopped fresh or dried herbs; grated lemon, lime or orange peel; sauteed chopped onions; or garlic or salt-free seasoning blends.
  • Read labels, looking at serving size, saturated fat and sodium content. Try some of the many reduced- and low-fat and low-sodium products now available.
  • Use nonstick skillet and nonstick vegetable oil sprays.
  • If you drink, do so in moderation -- no more than one drink daily for women and two for men. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 4 to 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) 80-proof spirits. Those age 65 or over should halve those amounts.
  • When dining out, be aware that most restaurant food is fairly salty.
  • Generally, request dressings (ask for reduced-fat) or any additional condiments like butter or sour cream be served on the side, and ask that your meat, fish or poultry be broiled, baked or grilled -- not fried or sauteed.
  • In a Mexican restaurant, Kain suggests ordering chicken fajitas with corn tortillas. In a Chinese restaurant, opt for Moo Goo Gai Pan, any vegetable dish, poultry or seafood that's not fried or coated (avoid beef and pork) and steamed, not fried, rice. Ask for food prepared without MSG and request soy sauce be used sparingly.
  • Sushi is a good choice as most is pretty lean. At a Japanese restaurant, order grilled fish; stay away from battered and fried tempuras.
  • For dessert, fresh fruit is the best choice.

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