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Heart disease & American Heart Association's dietary guidelines

Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines

The American Heart Association's revised dietary guidelines includes specific recommendations tailored to an individual's risk of heart disease and stroke . The guidelines are based on an analysis of hundreds of studies.

To Achieve An Overall Healthy Eating Pattern

Choose an overall balanced diet with foods from all major food groups, emphasizing fruits, vegetables and grains.

  • Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables and grain products.
  • At least 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • At least 6 daily servings of grain products, including whole grains.
  • Include fat-free and low-fat dairy products, fish, legumes, poultry and lean meats.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish per week

To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight

  • Avoid excess intake of calories.
  • Maintain a level of physical activity that achieves fitness and balances energy expenditure with caloric intake; for weight reduction, expenditure should exceed intake.
  • Limit foods that are high in calories and/or low in nutritional quality, including those with a high amount of added sugar


  • Limit foods with a high content of saturated fat and cholesterol. Substitute with grains and unsaturated fat from vegetables, fish, legumes and nuts.
  • Limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams (mg) a day for the general population, and 200 mg a day for those with heart disease or its risk factors.
  • Limit trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are found in foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils such as packaged cookies, crackers and other baked goods; commercially prepared fried foods and some margarines

To Achieve A Desirable Blood Pressure Level

  • Limit salt intake to less than 6 grams (2,400 mg sodium) per day, slightly more than one teaspoon a day.
  • If you drink, limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

The Guidelines Emphasize A Varied Diet Full Of Fruits, Vegetables, Grains And Fish

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, lean meats and poultry is still the basis of the recommendations. AHA recommends eating five servings of fruits and vegetables and six servings of grains daily. Two weekly servings of fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon, are also recommended.

Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber, and are relatively low in calories. People whose diet includes a high intake of fruits and vegetables are found to be associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables (especially those that are dark green, deep orange, or yellow) helps ensure adequate intakes of micronutrients normally present in this food group.

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