To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Heart-Healthy Eating

Table of Contents

Topic Overview

What is heart-healthy eating?

A heart-healthy eating plan is full of foods that can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. This plan can help you stay at a healthy weight and manage cholesterol and blood pressure. It is part of a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes regular activity and not smoking.

You can choose from several eating plans to keep your heart healthy. They include the American Heart Association diet, DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, and MyPlate plan.

Heart-healthy eating is for everyone. It is not just for people who have heart problems or who are at a high risk for heart problems. Heart-healthy eating focuses on adding more healthy foods to your plan and cutting back on foods that aren't so good for you.

If you already have heart or blood vessel problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, specific eating plans can help you manage those problems.

A few simple ideas

American Heart Association diet

The American Heart Association publishes heart-healthy diet guidelines for all adults and for children older than age 2.

To put these guidelines into action, see:

DASH diet

The DASH diet is a good choice for people who have high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure.

For help with the DASH diet, see:

To learn more, see a sample menu for the DASH diet.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

With the Dietary Guidelines for Americans plan, you eat and drink the right amount for you. This plan recommends eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. You limit or avoid saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars. These guidelines are from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For more information, see the topic Dietary Guidelines for Good Health.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet can also help lower cholesterol. It emphasizes fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fiber breads and whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. Meats, cheese and sweets are limited.

For more information, see the topic Mediterranean Diet.

How do you choose a diet?

With so many different food plans and health tips, it can be confusing to know what's best for you and your heart.

A chart that compares heart-healthy diets can help you see what foods are suggested in each plan.


Other Works Consulted

Credits for Heart-Healthy Eating

Current as of: April 29, 2021

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

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.