A heart-healthy eating plan is full of foods that can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. This plan can help you stay at a healthy weight and manage cholesterol and blood pressure. It is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes regular activity and not smoking.
You can choose from several eating plans to keep your heart healthy. They include the American Heart Association diet, DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, and MyPlate plan.
Heart-healthy eating is for everyone. It is not just for people who have heart problems or who are at a high risk for heart problems. Heart-healthy eating focuses on adding more healthy foods to your plan and cutting back on foods that aren't so good for you.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and other
Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans
fat, and cholesterol.
Eat at least two servings of fish each week. Oily fish, which contain
omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon,
mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines. If you cannot eat fish, you can also get omega-3 fats from omega-3 eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
With the Dietary Guidelines for Americans plan, you enjoy your food but eat less. This plan recommends eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. You limit or avoid saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars. These guidelines are from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle
recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1):
82–96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]
Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.
Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents (2011). Expert panel on integrated guidelines for cardiovascular health and risk reduction in children and adolescents: Summary report. Pediatrics, 128(Suppl 5): S213–S256.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2006).
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH
(NIH Publication No. 06-4082). Available online:
Smith SC, et al. (2011). AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation, 124(22): 2458–2473. Also available online: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/124/22/2458.full.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S.
Department of Agriculture (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, 7th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing
Office. Also available online:
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.