Share your location for a better experience

Please enter your city or town so we can help you find the right care at the right place.

Click the X to continue without setting your location

Get care nowSign in

Health news and blog

    Achieving a Heart-Healthy Diet

    Achieving a Heart-Healthy Diet

    Energy Foods

    When I started my career as a dietitian more than thirty years ago, most of the focus was on the “don’ts.” “Don’t eat too much fat, sugar, red meat, etc.” I spent a lot of time and energy telling people what to avoid when they ate. Over the years we have not only found out that many of those DON’T’S were incorrect but that when you focus on what not to eat people still don’t know what they should be eating.

    We’ve learned that a better approach is to educate people about the types and portions of food they should be eating. This positive focus has not only been more successful in helping people to eat a healthy diet but the research is showing that it is actually a better way to prevent chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, etc.)

    I love helping people to begin living a heart-healthy diet. I think almost everyone wants to eat well. Often they just don’t know where to start, or they may think it’s too expensive or too time-consuming to enjoy a healthy diet. 

    Here’s what I tell someone when they express an interest in eating heart-healthy.

    • Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. All fruits and vegetables are good for you. So ½ the plate – fruits and veggies. 
    • The other half of the plate should be divided between protein and whole grain with 2/3 of your plate containing something wholegrain. Be sure and check food labels on this one – there are a lot of products that may say “Made with whole grain” but in fact have more white processed flour than whole grains. Avoid those.
    • The leftover portion of your plate should be a healthy protein of some kind, such as nuts or seeds, natural peanut butter, beans or fish. 

    If you need to use a fat of some kind, consider using extra virgin olive oil or other less-refined plant oils.

    Along with this heart-healthy approach to eating, also work toward 30 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity – something that is vigorous enough to make you sweat.

    Last but not least, determine what a healthy weight would be and work toward achieving that goal. Be sure you talk to your health care providers about the changes you are making, and ask them for suggestions on how to stay safe.

    Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is something anyone can achieve. Like most important life changes we make, getting started is the hardest part. But you can do it. Your heart will thank you for trying.