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Healthy Diet Guidelines for a Healthy Heart

Topic Overview

Canadian experts publish dietary and lifestyle guidelines for general heart health.

These recommendations are for healthy adults and children, as well as people who already have health problems such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or heart failure.

These tips may help make your heart healthier:

  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits every day. Dark green, deep orange, or yellow fruits and vegetables are especially nutritious. Examples include spinach, carrots, peaches, and berries.
  • Eat a variety of whole grain foods every day. Include whole grain foods that have lots of fibre and nutrients. Examples of whole grain foods include oats, whole grain bread, and brown rice.
  • Try to stay at a healthy weight.
  • Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Try to choose the following foods:
    • Lean meats and plant-based alternatives like beans or tofu
    • Fish, vegetables, beans, and nuts
    • Non-fat and low-fat dairy products
    • Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, like canola and olive oils, to replace saturated fats, such as butter
  • Limit sodium. Most people get far more sodium than they need. Try to limit how much sodium (salt) you eat. For good health, less is best. This is especially important for people who are at risk for or already have high blood pressure. Try to limit the amount of sodium you eat to 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day. footnote 1
  • Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
  • Limit drinks and foods with added sugar.
  • When you are eating away from home, try to follow these heart-healthy guidelines.

Some people may have special dietary needs. Older adults, young children, and people with kidney disease should talk with a dietitian or their doctor before changing their diet.

Other heart-healthy diets

These recommendations are just one of several eating plans that help keep your heart healthy. Other heart-healthy eating plans are Canada's Food Guide, the DASH diet, and the Mediterranean diet.

References

Citations

  1. Rabi DM, et al. (2020). Hypertension Canada's 2020 comprehensive guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis, risk assessment, and treatment of hypertension in adults and children. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 36(5): 596–624. DOI: 10.1016/j.cjca.2020.02.086. Accessed August 02, 2021.

Other Works Consulted

  • 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.
  • Johnson RK, et al. (2009). Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 120(11): 1011–1020.

Credits

Current as of: April 29, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
Kathleen M. Fairfield MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine

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