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Tips for a heart healthy diet

Heart healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans pictured in a heart shaped bowl.

High blood pressure and cholesterol contribute to cardiovascular disease—but the good news is that there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your numbers and improve your heart health! Try incorporating these tips into your diet to support lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Cut back on sodium and eat less process food. The average American eats as much as 20 times* the amount of sodium our bodies need! Sodium isn’t just the salt you add to food on your plate—it’s added to many foods during processing. In fact, many foods that don’t taste “salty” can still be full of sodium. Aim for 2,000 mg of sodium daily.

Watch out for condiments. Sauces and condiments tend to be high in saturated fat and can have added sugars and sodium. Try switching out your traditional dressings and sauces for more nutritious options like mustard, hummus, plain Greek yogurt or balsamic vinegar.

Try fruit for dessert. Instead of high fat, high sugar dessert options, grab an apple or banana with nut butter, try frozen grapes or mix up a fruit and Greek yogurt smoothie for a healthy treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Focus on fiber. Fiber can help reduce cholesterol, which has a positive impact on heart health. Try to incorporate more whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains into your diet. Make your goal to take in 25 or more grams each day.

Be mindful of portion size. Check labels to know how much of a food is considered one serving—we often assume it’s more than what it actually is! Restaurants typically serve multiple portions for one entrée. Consider splitting your meal with someone, requesting a half-order or boxing up half to take home at the start of your meal to reduce the portion in front of you.

Have fun with cooking! Experiment with ways to add flavor outside of butter and salt—try adding a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of balsamic or some fresh herbs to your dishes.

If you need support in making lifestyle changes to work toward a healthier you, our team at the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness can help! We offer a range of services provided by our expert staff, including nutrition counseling with our registered dietitians. Contact us today at 419-678-8446 or for more information.

*Source: UCSF Health