Heart-Healthy Diet

Heart-Healthy Diet

A recent survey conducted by Mazola and WomenHeart, The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, indicates 43 percent of survey respondents say they do not worry about their cholesterol levels.1 With approximately 79 million Americans suffering from heart and blood vessel diseases, it is important that we work toward improving our diet and lifestyle to prevent heart disease for ourselves and generations to come. One of the first steps towards prevention is following a heart healthy diet.2

Heart-Healthy Foods

A heart-healthy diet is easy to follow. Below is a list of healthy options to consider when setting a healthier table3:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Grains, primarily whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including milk and cheese
  • Proteins such as fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, dry beans, eggs and nuts
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols, found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and oils from plants, are proven to help lower cholesterol.4 Experts recommend 2,000 mg of plant sterols per day to get the maximum cholesterol-lowering benefits; on average, Americans only get approximately 250 mg of plant sterols per day.5

The graph below outlines many of the heart-healthy foods listed above including their plant sterol levels.
Plant Sterol Content in Select Foods

Calorie Intake and Heart Health

Consuming the right fats is very important when following a heart-healthy diet, but portion control and calorie intake play a very important role as well. For more information on achieving a well-balanced diet, visit the following resources:




1. Research was conducted online using Synovate’s omnibus service, eNation. Each eNation wave conducts 1,000 U.S. consumer interviews (500 male, 500 female) that are geographically and demographically reflective of the U.S. adult population. 818 interviews were conducted among cooking oil users. Results for these 818 respondents have a confidence interval of +/- 3.4% at the 95% level. Interviewing occurred July 19-21, 2011.
2. American Heart Association – http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300313.pdf
3. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/heart-healthy-eating.cfm#b
4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/CL00002
5. Ling and Jones 1995 – http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/gras_notices/grn000061.pdf