Best Diet Plan For Healthy Heart

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Best Diet Plan For Healthy Heart — Keeping a healthy heart is very important. The heart is a muscle so it needs regular exercise and care. If you have a heart condition or if you are trying to prevent heart disease, you need to know the best diet plan for healthy heart. Here’s what you should eat everyday.

What Makes a Heart-Healthy Food?

There’s a lot more to heart health than just cutting out junk food.

There’s a lot more to heart health than just cutting out junk food. Keeping your heart healthy means managing stress levels, keeping blood pressure in check and getting enough sleep in addition to eating well. Eating for a healthy heart means cutting back on certain foods and making sure you’re getting enough of others. While diet alone isn’t the quick fix to ensuring heart health, it is a great place to start. Here’s what to know about what makes a heart-healthy food and how to get more of them in your diet.

Foods to Limit for Heart Health

Saturated Fats – Butter, high-fat meats, coconut, palm oil, fried foods and full-fat dairy products are just some of the places you’ll find saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 7 percent of calories should come from saturated fat. That’s about 16 grams on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Trans Fasts – Processed foods once used high amounts of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) to improve texture and increase shelf life, but science has taught us they’re even worse for your heart than saturated fats. For this reason, with guidance from the WHO, trans fats have been banned from food manufacturing. It continues to be an arduous process, but certainly worth it for heart health.

Cholesterol (but not really) – Dietary cholesterol (what’s found in food) differs from the blood cholesterol levels seen on lab tests. As mentioned above, a diet too high in saturated fat is the primary culprit for increasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. There are some foods that are high in both saturated fat and cholesterol and those should be avoided but foods like shrimp and eggs that are low in saturated fat are not as concerning.

High Sodium Foods – High-sodium foods like salty snacks, restaurant and processed foods packaged foods can aggravate blood pressure. Keep your intake below 2,300 milligrams per day (or 1,500 milligrams if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure). Following the DASH diet can also be a beneficial way to help keep your sodium intake and blood pressure in check.

Foods to Eat More of for Heart Health

Fruits & Veggies – Low in calories but full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, you can never go wrong with adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you’re looking for new ways to try more plants, consider trying out plant-based meals and smoothies at least once a week.

Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that’s incredible for your body. It can help lower LDL cholesterol, keeps you feeling fuller longer and can contribute to better digestion (yay for gut health). This type of fiber found in many foods you likely eat regularly like oats, beans, lentils and carrots.

Omega-3 Fats – The majority of Americans don’t get enough of this essential nutrient. Omega-3 plays a major role in overall wellness and mental health. It’s important for brain health and may even contribute to stress reduction — also important for heart health. Dig into salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia, flax and sardines on a regular basis.

Heart-Healthy Diet Plan

A heart-healthy diet plan isn’t about restricting, it’s about enjoying! Let this easy-to-follow meal plan be your guide.

pesto chicken bake

Whether you’re managing heart disease or just looking for some new recipes, you’ll love this easy-to-follow meal plan. Especially tailored for people just starting out with a heart-healthy diet, the recipes and snacks are straightforward and delicious. You’ll see lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein (including plant-based proteins), whole grains, heart-healthy fats and plenty of herbs and spices to help deliver flavor, without the need for too much salt. Eating this combination of healthy foods helps to keep your blood pressure balanced, your cholesterol levels in a healthy range and your heart happy.

We kept this meal plan at 1,500 calories, with options to bump the calories up to 2,000, or down to 1,200, depending on your needs. And you’ll find plenty of heart-healthy proteins (think salmon, chicken and beans) and fiber, to keep you feeling satisfied after meals—not starving an hour later. The sodium for each day is below 1,500 mg, per the American Heart Association guidelines, but you won’t miss it with these tasty, low-sodium recipes. To keep salt in check when shopping for packaged foods, be sure to check the label and go for options lower in sodium. A good rule of thumb is to choose items where the Daily Value (DV) percent for sodium is close to 5% DV. Close to or above 20% DV is considered high, so skip those products.

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals

  1. Meal-prep Lisa’s Granola to enjoy throughout the week.

Day 1

Italian Penne with Tuna

Muesli is a hearty breakfast dish that can be enjoyed hot or cold! The choice is yours for this morning’s breakfast.

Breakfast (407 calories)

  • 1 serving Muesli with Raspberries
  • 1 medium grapefruit

A.M. Snack (141 calories)

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 hard-boiled egg

Lunch (370 calories)

  • 1 serving Chicken & Apple Kale Wraps

P.M. Snack (418 calories)

  • 2 oz. whole-grain crackers
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter

Dinner (418 calories)

  • 1 serving Italian Penne with Tuna
  • Salad: 2 cups lettuce dressed with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil and ¼ cup chickpeas

Daily Totals: 1,449 calories, 67 g protein, 194 g carbs, 36 g fiber, 53 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,208 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit 1 clementine and omit the hard-boiled egg from the A.M. snack. Decrease crackers to 1 oz. and decrease peanut butter to 2 tsp. at P.M. snack. Omit the salad from dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 5 dried apricots and ½ oz. unsalted almonds to lunch. Add 1 medium banana to the P.M. snack. For dinner, increase the serving of Italian Penne to 2 cups, add ¼ avocado to the salad, increase olive oil to 2 tsp., and add 1 Tbsp. unsalted sunflower seeds.

Day 2

Asian-Style Chicken Salad Bowls

Make your own parfaits this morning for breakfast! It’s easier than you think and such a nourishing start to the day!

Breakfast (246 calories)

  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup frozen berries, thawed
  • 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (169 calories)

  • 1 small pear
  • ½ oz. unsalted almonds

Lunch (405 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie Sandwich
  • 1 cup grapes

P.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup low-sodium cottage cheese

Dinner (495 calories)

  • 1 serving Chicken & Cabbage Salad Bowls with Sesame Dressing
  • ½ cup edamame
  • 1 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti

Daily Totals: 1,491 calories, 91 g protein, 192 g carbs, 35 g fiber, 48 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 790 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the banana from breakfast and omit the grapes from lunch. Omit almonds from the A.M. snack and omit the spaghetti from dinner.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 serving of Lisa’s Granola to breakfast, add an additional ½ oz. almonds to the A.M. snack, and add 2 cups air-popped popcorn to lunch. To dinner, add an additional 1 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti.

Day 3

Baked Frittata with Butternut Squash, Kale & Sage

A simple version of avocado toast starts the day! Be sure to choose a ripe avocado at the store. Or quick-ripen it in a brown bag with an apple.

Breakfast (282 calories)

  • 1 slice whole-grain bread, toasted
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. salsa
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup pineapple (on the side)

A.M. Snack (228 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • ½ serving Lisa’s Granola

Lunch (403 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie Sandwich
  • 1 medium pear

P.M. Snack (322 calories)

  • 2 oz. whole-grain crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Dinner (279 calories)

  • 1 serving Baked Frittata with Butternut Squash, Kale and Sage

Daily Totals: 1,514 calories, 42 g protein, 225 g carbs, 42 g fiber, 56 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,394 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit pineapple from breakfast, omit Lisa’s Granola from the A.M. snack, and omit the pear from lunch.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 1 slice whole-grain bread and ¼ avocado to breakfast. Increase Lisa’s Granola by ½ serving (to make 1 serving) at the A.M. snack and add ½ serving Tropical Fruit & Nuts Snack to lunch. To dinner, add 2 cups lettuce, 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil.

Day 4

veggie sandwich

The edamame you’ll enjoy with dinner can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store. If you plan on adding it to your bowl, consider buying the shelled version for easier prep.

Breakfast (328 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup frozen berries, thawed
  • 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (154 calories)

  • 2 clementines
  • ½ oz. unsalted almonds

Lunch (301 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie Sandwich

P.M. Snack (270 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • ½ serving Lisa’s Granola
  • ½ cup nonfat milk

Dinner (395 calories)

  • 1 serving Chicken & Cabbage Salad Bowls with Sesame Dressing
  • ½ cup cooked edamame

Daily Totals: 1,448 calories, 77 g protein, 179 g carbs, 35 g fiber, 55 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 874 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit banana from breakfast. Decrease to ½ serving of Lisa’s Granola and omit the milk from P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add 2 cups air-popped popcorn to the A.M. snack and add 1 serving Tropical Fruit & Nuts Snack to lunch. To dinner, add an additional ½ cup cooked edamame and 1 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti.

Day 5

pesto chicken bake

Every try packing your sandwich full of crunchy veggies and using hummus and avocado as your creamy spreads? Well, you’ll love this veggie-forward take on a healthy lunch-time salad.

Breakfast (316 calories)

  • 1 slice whole-grain bread, toasted
  • ¼ avocado, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. salsa
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 clementine

A.M. Snack (101 calories)

  • 1 medium pear

Lunch (301 calories)

  • 1 serving Veggie Sandwich

P.M. Snack (209 calories)

  • 1 oz. whole-grain crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Dinner (474 calories)

  • 1 serving Pesto Chicken Bake
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups baby spinach dressed with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Daily Totals: 1,465 calories, 59 g protein, 205 g carbs, 36 g fiber, 52 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,266 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit the clementine from breakfast and omit the Greek yogurt from the A.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add an additional slice of whole-grain bread, ¼ avocado and 1 Tbsp. salsa to breakfast. Add ½ serving Lisa’s Granola to the A.M. snack, add 1 cup pineapple to lunch, and add 1 Tbsp. peanut butter to the P.M. snack. To dinner, add 1 cup cherry tomatoes to the salad.

Day 6

Sheet-Pan Salmon with Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

Kale makes for a nutritious and hearty wrap for your lunch and when chicken, apple slices, mayo and mustard are tucked inside, you get a delicious meal in no time at all.

Breakfast (182 calories)

  • ¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup frozen berries, thawed

A.M. Snack (190 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Lunch (370 calories)

  • 1 serving Chicken & Apple Kale Wraps

P.M. Snack (268 calories)

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 serving Tropical Fruit & Nuts Snack

Dinner (504 calories)

  • 1 serving Sheet-Pan Salmon with Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli

Daily Totals: 1,524 calories, 90 g protein, 160 g carbs, 29 g fiber, 62 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 1,063 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit peanut butter from A.M. snack and omit the Tropical Fruit & Nuts Snack from the P.M. snack.

To make it 2,000 calories: Add an additional ¼ cup yogurt to breakfast. Add 2 Tbsp. packed raisins and an additional 1 Tbsp. peanut butter to the A.M. snack. Add 3 cups air-popped popcorn to lunch, 1 clementine to the P.M. snack and 1½ cups pineapple to dinner.

Day 7

chicken apple kale wraps

If you need a little extra crunch to go with lunch, we’ve got you covered! Air-popped popcorn is satisfying and nutritious.

Breakfast (340 calories)

  • 1 serving Muesli with Raspberries
  • ½ banana

A.M. Snack (205 calories)

  • 1 medium grapefruit
  • ½ oz. unsalted almonds

Lunch (463 calories)

  • 1 serving Chicken & Apple Kale Wraps
  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn

P.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup low-sodium cottage cheese

Dinner (455 calories)

  • 1 serving Vegan Buddha Bowl

Daily Totals: 1,557 calories, 77 g protein, 206 g carbs, 42 g fiber, 55 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 873 mg sodium

To make it 1,200 calories: Omit banana from breakfast, omit almonds from A.M. snack, and omit popcorn from lunch.

To make it 2,000 calories: Make it a whole banana at breakfast and add another ½ oz. almonds to the A.M. snack. To lunch, add 1 cup pineapple and to the P.M. snack, add ½ cup cherry tomatoes and 5 dried apricots. At dinner, add 1/2 piece whole-wheat pita bread and 1/4 cup hummus for dipping.

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Diet plays a huge role in keeping your heart healthy. It is also considered to be an important risk factor in all kinds of heart diseases, especially coronary heart disease. There are certain foods that influence cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation, and triglycerides. You must avoid such foods to keep your heart healthy and stay away from heart diseases.

Heart disease can get worse if not maintained. Hence, it is very important for every patient suffering from heart disease to maintaining a healthy diet. A plaque build-up in your arteries can block the blood flow to your heart. If you leave your heart disease untreated, it may lead to sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, or heart attack. All these conditions are considered to be life-threatening.

What are the risk factors of heart disease?

Heart disease occurs when cholesterol, minerals, and fatty molecules develop in the blood vessels and arteries and blocks the blood flow in the heart. There are several risk factors that play a vital role in determining if you are at a risk of developing heart disease. Age and heredity are the most important factors for developing heart disease.

The risk of developing heart disease increases if any of your family members has a history of heart disease or if your age is above 50. Men are more likely to develop heart disease at the age of 45 whereas women at the age of 55. Here are some of the risk factors.

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heredity factors
  • Stress
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Eating an unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Being physically inactive
  • Clinical depression

Steps to prevent heart diseases

Changing your food habits is tough. But if you want to prevent yourself from getting heart disease, here are a few steps that can help you to prevent heart disease.

  • Avoid overeating and control your portion size.
  • Add whole grains as a part of your diet as it is a good source of fiber.
  • Choose low-fat protein sources like poultry, lean meat, eggs, and fishes.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise daily as it may help to keep your heart healthy.
  • Avoid smoking and reduce the intake of alcohol.
  • Having too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. Hence, it is important to reduce the salt in your food. Limiting salt (sodium) is a vital part of a healthy diet.

Best heart-friendly foods to eat

A heart-healthy diet can consist of:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans and legumes
  • fish and seafood
  • whole grains
  • plant-based oils, such as olive oil
  • eggs (you can eat up to six per week)
  • lean meats
  • skinless poultry

These choices are low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Consuming a diet high in these ingredients may increase your risk of a heart attack.

Canned and frozen veggies and fruits may be used in place of fresh varieties but look out for added ingredients such as sodium, butter, or sugar. When possible, consume vegetables and fruits in their natural state to get the maximum benefits.

Fish is one of the best foods for your heart, especially certain types. Oily fish is considered best because it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce triglycerides and inflammation and promote vascular health. Canned versions are also a good option but choose ones that are packed in water.

Aim to have at least 2 servings of fish per week. Examples include:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • trout
  • herring
  • mackerel

When it comes to drinks, your best option is water. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, experiment with flavoring it, like slicing a lemon, cucumber, or berry and adding it to your water for some all-natural flavor.

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