Health & Prevention

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Heart Diet

What are the healthiest foods to consume to keep the heart and body working at 100 percent?

We cannot provide individualized recommendations to help keep your heart and body working at 100% without a complete nutrition and risk factor evaluation. Good health encompasses not only a healthful diet but also smoking cessation, stress management, physical activity and a host of additional lifestyle factors. With respect to heart health, Cleveland Clinic's Heart and Vascular Institute recommends the following general nutrition guidelines:

  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fat – avoid fatty meats and cheeses, desserts, butter, lard, fried foods, tropical oils and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Choose the leanest cut of meat possible with skin and all visible fat removed
  • Use fat in moderation and choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (from olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish)
  • Limit animal protein sources (such as lean cuts of meat, white meat of skinless poultry, fish, shellfish) and incorporate more vegetarian protein from legumes, soy, dried beans, nuts and seeds
  • Choose all nonfat or 1%-fat dairy products
  • Eat an abundance and variety of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits which are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber – and they're low in calories
  • Choose all unrefined whole-grain foods which contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease

This pattern of eating is synonymous with what is coined the "traditional Mediterranean diet". Extensive epidemiologic and clinical research has indicated this type of dietary pattern has a cardio-protective (heart-health protective) benefit, whether you are aiming to prevent heart disease or are trying to prevent further heart damage.

If you would like to be properly evaluated, I'd recommend you meet with a registered dietitian in your area to receive a complete assessment of your heart-promoting nutritional needs.

Best of health to you!

More Information

For more information on a heart-healthy diet plan, contact:
Preventive Cardiology
Phone: 216.444.9353
Toll-free 800.223.2273 ext. 49353

Reviewed: 12/13

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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