Heart Healthy Foods


Chose Heart Healthy Foods!

It’s easy to choose Heart Healthy Foods when grocery shopping or when eating out! Just follow this guide:

  1. Buy lots of fruits and veggies
    • Fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fiber, which can aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
  2. Buy whole grains
    • Nutrients in whole grains promote heart health.
    • Replace white bread, flour, pasta, and rice with their whole grains alternative.
    • Chose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.
  3. Beware of Energy or Nutritional Bars!
    • Many energy and nutritional bars contain trans fat! Even if they are labeled “trans fat free,” don’t forget to check the label – manufactures are allowed to use this label even when there is ½ a gram of trans-fat or less – that may seem small, but it can add up, especially if the “nutritional” bar has more than 1 serving (your may be unknowingly eating 2 or 3 grams of trans fat in every bar).
  4. Purchase oil that has processed to a minimal degree.
    • To do this, look for oils that have been “cold expeller pressed” and “extra virgin.” These processes ensure minimal damage.
  5. Make your own salad dressing
    • Using pure olive oil instead of buying readymade salad dressings. Many readymade salad dressings are made with damaged, over processed and inferior oils.
    • Or, simply squeeze a lemon as your dressing! Or try a splash of vinegar – red wine or balsamic. That way you will cut out all fat, but still have the flavor.
    • Using lemon is also a great alternative to salt.
  6. Avoid animal fat. The highest concentration of toxins in animals is found in their fat.
    • If you do buy animal meat products that are high in fat, buy organic. Look for products labeled “organic” as well as products produced with “no antibiotics, no added growth hormones and no dangerous pesticides.” Organic refers to the way foods are produced and processed without chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Since the animal fat has the highest concentration of toxins found in the animal, at least if you are eating animal fat, the toxins you are ingested will be limited.
  7. Buy organic dairy (for the same reasons as listed above).
  8. Avoid buying full-fat options if there are reduced-fat, low-fat or non-fat options available.
    • Especially for dairy including milk and cheese.

Lower Cholesterol Grocery Shopping

Read Your Labels!

Don’t fall into “cholesterol-free” traps

  • Don’t assume that a food labeled “cholesterol free” is good for you. It may still contain bad fats, be high in calories, or high in sugar.

Beware of “trans-fat free” labels!

  • In the United States, foods are allowed to be labeled “trans-fat free” if it contains less than .5 grams of trans fats per serving. Even though half a gram of trans-fat may seem small, it can add up, especially if you’re eating more than 1 serving.
  • Instead focusing on the “trans-fat free” label, focus on the ingredients. If the ingredients contain partially hydrogenated oils, that is the same thing as trans-fats; so don’t buy it.
  • Avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils! The following types of packaged foods at supermarkets often contain partially hydrogenated oils: Chocolate, peanut butter, energy bars, crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, biscuits, potato chips, imitation cheese, microwave popcorn, other snack foods. Make sure you read your labels and stay away from them if they contain it.
  • In general, check the Nutrition Facts panel to compare foods – make sure serving sizes are consistent before your compare similar foods. Choose foods lower in saturated fat, Trans fat, and cholesterol. For saturated fat and cholesterol, keep in mind that 5 percent of the Daily Value (%DV) or less is good, and of course 0 is best.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

The Truth About Fat

Fats are broken down into 3 categories:

  • Saturated fats
  • Mono-unsaturated fats
  • Poly-unsaturated fats (this includes Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids [EFAs])

Let’s take a look at: Poly-Unsaturated Fats, Fatty Acids, and Essential Fatty Acids

The key roles that fat plays in your body are in the breakdown for their fatty acids and in energy.

Fatty acids are vital to your health and well being. Fatty acids are the acids that are produced when fat is broken down. Your body uses fatty acids to perform key functions in your body which involve the brain, eyes, heart, lungs, nerves, skin, hair, digestion, and hormones.

Your body also burns fat for energy. The extra energy that is not burned or used in your body is stored in adipose tissue. Adipose then protects and cushions the organs in your body. The fat that many people dislike on their bodies (in the form of love handles, big thighs, or flabby bellies) is not fat per se, it’s adipose tissue.

The human body can produce all but 2 of the fatty acids it needs. These 2 fatty acids are linoleic acid (LA acid), which is the “parent” fatty acid to the Omega 6 family) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA acid) which is the “parent” fatty acid in the Omega 3 family.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs). When the word “essential” is used in a nutrition context, it refers to something the body cannot make on its own and must find from outside sources — i.e., your diet.

Foods High in Omega 3 include:

  • Flax seeds
  • Cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel
  • Sardines

Foods High in Omega 6 include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, sesame, soybean, safflower
  • Margarine
  • Pumpkin seeds

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors