What Diet Does the American Heart Association Recommend?


Quick Answer

A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from all food groups, according to the American Heart Association. Choose low-calorie foods that are rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

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Full Answer

Monitoring the number of calories consumed each day is an important part of a healthy diet, states the American Heart Association. An individual shouldn't eat more calories than he can burn in a day, and exercise or general physical activity should be increased to compensate for extra calories consumed. Regular exercise is important in order to maintain a healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness. Forty minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise, three to four times per week, is recommended.

Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in a diet helps control cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, reports the American Heart Association. A nutritious eating plan includes whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish. Individuals should also limit consumption of red meat, trans fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium.

When preparing foods, choose lean cuts of meat or poultry, remove excess fat and skin, and prepare them without trans fats or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, according to the American Heart Association. Eating fish containing heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acids twice a week may help reduce risk of coronary artery disease. Additionally, reducing sodium intake to no more than 2,400 milligrams per day and saturated fat to no more than 6 percent of total calories are aspects of a heart-healthy diet plan. It's also recommended to limit alcohol and to avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.

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