Heart Healthy Nutrition

Heart disease is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. Physical activity, smoking cessation, and diet are your best defenses in fighting heart disease. In addition to a diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in fiber, heart healthy nutrition involves eating a wide variety of foods from all of the basic food groups. It can benefit those who are currently battling heart disease or those who wish to lower their risk of developing heart disease in the future. The following guidelines are set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA).

Choose Lean Meats

The AHA recommends eating no more than six ounces (170 grams) of cooked lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood a day. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Eat at least two servings of fish each week
  • Choose the leanest cuts of beef, pork, and lamb
  • Trim all visible fat from meat and poultry before cooking
  • Remove skin from chicken, duck, goose, and turkey
  • Choose white meat (breast meat) most often when eating poultry
  • Note that duck and goose are higher in fat than chicken and turkey
  • Grill, bake or broil meats and poultry
  • Stay away from oily, deep-fried or breaded meats
  • Stay away from organ meats such as liver and kidneys which are very high in cholesterol
  • Cut back on processed meats that are high in saturated fat and sodium such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs

Minimize Whole Fat Dairy

  • Minimize your intake of whole-fat dairy products and two percent full-fat dairy products.
  • Select fat-free, one percent fat and low-fat dairy products
  • Limit whole-fat milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt as much as possible

Reduce Trans Fat

  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
  • •Use liquid vegetable oils and soft margarines in place of hard margarine or shortening
  • •Limit cakes, cookies, crackers, pastries, pies, muffins, doughnuts and French fries made with partially hydrogenated or saturated fats

Limit Sodium Intake

Too much salt in your diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

  • Limit high-sodium condiments and foods such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, miso, monosodium glutamate (MSG), preserved vegetables, pickles and olives
  • Replace salt with herbs and spices or some of the salt-free seasoning mixes. Use lemon juice, citrus zest, vinegar or hot chili to add flavor
  • Try rinsing certain foods, such as canned tuna and salmon to remove some of the sodium

Increase Fiber to Fight Cholesterol

Fiber is classified as “soluble” or “insoluble.” When regularly eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and may also help reduce the risk of diabetes and colon and rectal cancer. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least 25–30 grams of dietary fiber — in both soluble and insoluble forms — every day.

Here are some tips to help you add more fiber to your diet:

  • Foods high in soluble fiber include oats, barley, beans, peas, rice bran, millet, applesauce, and berries
  • Foods high in insoluble fiber include whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, whole grain pastas, vegetables such as spinach and green beans, fruit skins and potato skins
  • Cooking vegetables can reduce their fiber content, so try to eat more raw vegetables and fresh fruit
  • Be sure to increase your fiber intake gradually, giving your body time to adjust
  • Drink at least six to eight 8 oz. glasses of fluids a day (1500-2000ml)

It is recommended that you meet one-on-one with a healthcare professional so they can offer individualized advice according to your nutritional requirements.


The American Heart Association (AHA):

For more information on nutrition please make an appointment with Carlynn Sze at 4008-919191. If not in Beijing, please contact the family medicine department at your nearest United Family Healthcare facility.