The right diet can help prevent--and even reverse--some forms of heart disease. To stay healthy, your body needs the right balance of foods, and your heart will benefit especially from a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Reading food labels is a good way to help you follow the recommended guidelines of "heart-smart" eating, which include:
- Eating a wide variety of foods, not only for balance, but to provide the vitamins and minerals you need.
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes and other "whole" foods rather than products than have been refined and processed.
- Carbohydrate intake that makes up 50 to 65 percent of total calories, with emphasis on complex carbohydrates (starches) found in grains and vegetables, rather than simple sugars.
- Keeping protein to 15 to 20 percent of total calories.
- Limiting fat to less than 30 percent of total calories, with an emphasis on getting most fat calories from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources, rather than saturated fats found in animal food sources and "junk" foods. Saturated fats should comprise no more than 10 percent of total calories.
- Holding cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams a day.
- Increasing fiber to about 25 grams a day.