Heart disease is a broad term for any condition that affects the heart and blood vessels. This includes: heart attackstrokehigh blood pressurestable anginaunstable anginacongestive heart failurepoor circulationarrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
The American Heart Association, called AHA, provides dietary guidelines for healthy eating which can reduce three risk factors for heart disease: high blood cholesterolhigh blood pressureexcess body weight
Apply the following guidelines to the overall eating pattern.
Achieve an overall healthy eating pattern. Choose a balanced diet with foods from all major food groups, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and grains.Eat 5 or more servings per day of fruits and vegetables.Eat 6 or more servings per day of grain products, including whole grains.Include fat-free and low-fat milk products, beans, skinless poultry, and lean meats.Eat at least 2 servings of fish per week, especially fatty fish.
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Avoid excess intake of calories.Maintain a level of physical activity that achieves fitness and balances energy output with calorie intake. For weight reduction, one must burn more calories through exercise than one takes in.Limit foods that are high in calories and/or low in nutritional quality, including those with a high amount of added sugar.
Achieve a healthy cholesterol level. Limit foods with a high content of saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead, substitute grains and unsaturated fat that comes from vegetables, fish, legumes, and nuts.Limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams (mg) a day for those without heart disease or any heart disease risk factors. For those with heart disease or its risk factors, limit cholesterol to 200 mg a day.Limit or eliminate trans-fats. Trans-fats are found in foods that have partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as packaged cookies, crackers and other baked goods, commercially prepared fried foods, and some margarines.
Achieve a healthy blood pressure level. Limit salt intake to less than 6 grams or 2,400 mg of sodium per day. This equates to slightly more than 1 teaspoon of salt a day.If a person drinks alcohol, daily intake should be held to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
In summary, the AHA recommends that: Total fat intake per day is no more than 30 percent of total calories.Saturated fat intake is less than 10 percent of total calories.Cholesterol intake is less than 300 mg per day.
Although the AHA guidelines were developed to help healthy people prevent heart disease, they can also benefit those with other medical conditions. This includes: diabeteskidney diseasepreexisting heart diseaseelevated LDL, the so-called "lethal" or "bad" cholesterol congestive heart failureobesity
For people who already have heart disease, AHA recommends following the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, called TLC, diet. This diet is outlined in detail at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd/lifestyles.htm. Here is a summary: Make sure less than 25-35 percent of each day's total calories come from fat.No more than 7 percent of total calories per day should come from saturated fat.Eat foods with less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day.Limit salt intake to 2400 mg per day.Eat just enough calories to achieve or maintain weight within a healthy range.
Anyone thinking about trying the TLC diet should talk with the doctor first to learn what is a reasonable daily calorie level for him or her. A registered dietician can also be helpful in making eating habit changes and in learning how to choose foods and plan menus.
When the TLC diet does not lower blood cholesterol levels enough, the doctor may suggest adding more fiber to the diet. There are also cholesterol- lowering foods available. These are foods such as margarines and salad dressings that contain plant sterol esters or plant stanol esters. Some people may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicine.