Heart-healthy foods include those that make up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Not so heart-healthy foods — processed and fatty red meat, added sugars, sodium — are to be eaten in moderation. Here are some tips for implementing a heart-healthy diet.
No. 1: Replace enriched grains with whole grains. Choose oats, barley, whole wheat, corn, brown rice and sorghum.
No. 2: Emphasize fruits and vegetables. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk of heart disease.
No. 3: Include dairy. Fermented dairy, including kefir, cheese and yogurt, is being studied for its ability to protect against heart disease. New research indicates that while low-fat dairy is still recommended because it’s lower in saturated fat, full-fat dairy may not be as harmful to your heart health as originally thought.
No. 4: Pour a cup of coffee or tea. Moderate coffee drinking (three to five cups a day) is associated with a modest reduction in cardiovascular risk, and drinking three cups of tea a day has been linked to a decrease in coronary heart disease.
No. 5: Celebrate with red wine and chocolate. The bioactive components in dark chocolate improve blood pressure, blood clotting and dilation of blood vessels. Studies show people’s risk of heart disease goes down when they eat dark chocolate in small amounts — between three and six servings per week. Moderate consumption of red wine (one to two drinks a day for men; one for women) is linked to improved heart health. The key, like with any food, is moderation.