Chest Pain Cause Healthy Heart Diet

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Luckily, many of the factors that contribute to heart disease are under your control. One thing you can do to greatly reduce your chance of developing heart disease is to eat a heart-healthy diet.

Eating heart-healthy foods can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and can slow the progression of such heart conditions as coronary artery disease. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help keep you and your heart in top condition.

Foods to Avoid

One of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing heart disease is to limit the amount of cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats in your diet.

The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for fat and cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol: Healthy adults should get less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Adults who are taking cholesterol-lowering medications or who have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, should get less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day.
  • Saturated Fat: Saturated fat should comprise less than 7 percent of your total daily calories.
  • Trans Fat: Trans fat should comprise less than 1 percent of your total daily calories.

To limit your intake of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods, limit the amount of solid fat you use during cooking. Solid fats include:

  • bacon grease
  • butter
  • cocoa butter
  • coconut, palm and palm-kernel oils
  • lard
  • margarine
  • shortening.

Instead of using these solid fats, opt for low-fat, more heart-healthy substitutions. For example, you could use salsa to flavor a baked potato or low-sugar jelly on your toast.

Another healthy alternative is to use monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats when cooking. Try to use the following in your recipes:

  • canola oil
  • cholesterol-lowering margarine
  • olive oil
  • trans-fat-free margarine.

When used in place of saturated fats, these fats may help reduce your total blood cholesterol. Remember, however, to use all fats sparingly.

Heart-Healthy Protein

When following a heart-healthy diet, you should choose low-fat protein sources whenever possible. The best low-fat protein sources include:

  • egg whites
  • fat-free or low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • fish, particularly fatty, coldwater fish (tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • legumes
  • skinless white-meat poultry
  • soybeans and soybean products, including tofu and soy burgers.

When following a heart-healthy diet, avoid these protein sources in your meals:

  • bacon
  • egg yolks
  • fatty and/or marbled meats (sirloin steak, ground chuck, etc.)
  • fried, breaded and canned meats
  • full-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • hot dogs
  • organs (livers, kidneys, etc.)
  • sausages
  • spare ribs.

Healthy Whole Grains

The sources of carbohydrates in your diet should be made with whole grains. Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients and also contain a number of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • iron
  • magnesium
  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • thiamin
  • vitamin E
  • zinc.

Eating whole grains is easy: Simply substitute whole-grain products for those made with refined flour. Choose:

  • brown rice
  • high-fiber cereals
  • whole-grain breads
  • whole-wheat pastas
  • whole-wheat flour.

Fruits and Vegetables in a Heart-Healthy Diet

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of any healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They’re also good sources of soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Almost all fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, canned or frozen, are good for your body and should be included in your meals. However, there are some foods that contain fruits and vegetables that you should avoid, including:

  • canned fruit packed in heavy syrup
  • coconuts and products containing coconut
  • creamy sauces that contain vegetables
  • fried or breaded vegetables
  • salads topped with creamy, fatty dressings.

Choosing Heart-Healthy Foods

Next time you’re in the grocery store, the American Heart Association recommends stocking up on the following heart-healthy foods:

  • Breads, Cereals, Grains and Starches: whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-wheat breads
  • Dairy: liquid or dry 1-percent or fat-free milk, low-fat and low-sodium cottage cheese, low-fat or part-skim cheeses
  • Fats: unsaturated vegetable oils, low-sodium and low-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise, unsalted margarine with liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient
  • Fish: fresh or frozen fish (not breaded), canned tuna and salmon (unsalted or rinsed)
  • Fruits: fresh, canned or frozen
  • Meats: lean cuts of beef, veal, pork or lamb
  • Meat Substitutes: dried beans, peas and lentils; tofu; nuts and seeds; unsalted peanut butter
  • Poultry: skinless white-meat chicken and turkey
  • Vegetables: fresh or frozen canned vegetables (unsalted or rinsed).

Heart Health: Moderation is Key

When following any diet, it is important to always eat foods in moderation. In order to do this, you should keep track of the number of servings you eat and use proper serving sizes.

In order to ensure you’re eating the proper amount of food, use a kitchen scale, measuring spoons and measuring cups. Also, pay attention to serving sizes on food packages.


American Heart Association (2007). Choosing a Heart-Healthy Diet. Retrieved October 30, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site:

Mayo Clinic Staff (2006). Heart-healthy eating to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Retrieved October 30, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: