Smart Food for Smart People®
Eat Smart® for Heart Health
Most people understand that they need to limit foods containing fat and cholesterol as part of a heart healthy diet but most people do not know how much or what kind of fat to limit and have no idea how much dietary cholesterol is ok. Recommendations for a heart healthy diet are as follows:
The problem with these recommendations is most people do not know how to come up with actual numbers they can use (how many grams of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol are right for me?). The American Heart Association has developed a useful tool to help consumers with this issue. By entering some basic information such as age, sex, height, weight and activity level, the "My fats translator" tool will do the calculations for you! Click on this link to use the "My fats Translator".
- Less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat;
- An average of 30 percent of calories or less from total fat; and
- Less than 300 mg a day of dietary cholesterol.
For a healthy heart it is important to eat 1.) less fat, 2.) less sodium, 3.) fewer calories and 4.) more fiber (for more detail on what this means see below)
- Eat less fat (specifically less saturated fat):
Fat found in foods that come from animals, such as meat, milk, cheese and butter are saturated fats and are more likely to cause heart disease. Also the fats from palm and coconut oils contain a high amount of saturated fat.
- Eat less sodium:
The majority of the salt in our diet comes from processed food (77%). The remaining sodium in our diet comes is naturally occurring in the food (12%), added at the table (6%) and added while cooking (5%). Eating less sodium can help lower blood pressure which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Eat fewer calories:
Most Americans eat more calories than they need and as a result, gain weight. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease. When we eat fewer calories than we need we lose weight.
- Eat more fiber:
Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans) provides important nutrients, aids with weight loss and actually helps reduce cholesterol.