Heart disease kills more Americans than any other chronic illness. Maintaining a healthy weight and following a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and limits your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium can help reduce your risk. The American Heart Association aims to reduce heart disease by providing dietary guidelines.
Heart Association Meal Plan
The American Heart Association diet recommends you include six servings of whole grains and legumes, five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of nonfat or low-fat dairy products and two servings of lean meat, poultry, fish or vegetarian alternative each day. This diet limits your daily saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of calories, trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories and sodium to 1,500mg a day. To balance your intake, divide your food choices among your three meals. Eating at regular intervals can help you manage your appetite for weight control.
A balanced American Heart Association diet breakfast may include two servings of grains or legumes, one serving of fruits or vegetables and one serving of low-fat or nonfat milk. A heart-healthy sample meal includes 1 cup of cooked oatmeal with 1/4 cup of raisins and 1 cup of nonfat milk. Including foods high in fiber, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can help lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Fiber in food also delays digestion, helping to control your appetite.
Your heart-healthy lunch should include two servings of whole grains or legumes, two servings of fruits and vegetables, one serving of milk and one serving of lean meat. A sample lunch meal may include 2 cups of leafy greens topped with 3 oz. of grilled chicken breast and 1/2 cup of cooked garbanzo beans with 1 tsp. of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve your lunch meal with five whole grain crackers and 1 cup of nonfat yogurt.
Your dinner should include two servings of whole grains or legumes, two servings of fruits or vegetables, one serving of milk and one serving of lean meat, poultry or fish. Your heart-healthy dinner meal may include a 3 oz. portion of broiled salmon with 1 cup of cooked brown rice, 1 cup of steamed broccoli and 1 cup of nonfat milk. The American Heart Association recommends you include two servings of fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, in your diet each week. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels.