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Heart Healthy Nutrition

Content by: NCES, Inc.

There are several risk factors responsible for the high rates of heart disease in the United states. Some can be controlled, and some are simply genetic. Working with a professional to establish how many calories an individual needs per day is the first step to preventing excess calorie consumption.

Heart Healthy Nutrition


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Identify foods that can offer optimal nutrients to control weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It may be beneficial to start by identifying foods with optimal nutrients, and helping patients to discover new ways to incorporate nutrient dense foods into their diet rather than making a list of foods for patients to avoid or cut out.

Maintain a diet rich in fruits & vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts & legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils is ideal to offer optimal health benefits. Both the DASH diet (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet are two dietary patterns that are easily adaptable to different calorie needs and cultural preferences while offering cardiovascular benefits.

Make healthy swaps for the things they are currently eating: help them to ease into eating more vegetables by finding low calorie/low fat sauces to add, switch from 2% or whole milk to 1% or skim, swap out one red meat item for a fish item per week. It may also help to swap out some processed items for a simple homemade recipe to increase the health benefits.

Quick Tip! Be aware of sodium.
The American Heart Association recommends 1500mg per day, while the average American consumes 3400mg in a day. Research has shown that sodium is linked to increased risk of heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

Next Steps:
1. Understand food labels to assist with limiting sodium intake.
2. Compare labels and find the option with the lowest amount.

NOTE: As a general rule, 5% DV of sodium or less is considered low, and 20% or more is considered high.

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