February is Healthy Heart month and All Care is pleased to publish a blog series covering what you need to know about heart disease, how to reduce your risk, the different effects of heart disease in women, signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as how to incorporate healthy habits and recipes into your lifestyle to increase the health of your heart.


Part VI: Developing Heart Healthy Eating Habits

Heart disease is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects the heart. Heart disease means the same as cardiac disease but not cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease refers to disorders of the blood vessels and heart, while heart disease refers to just the heart.


Heart-healthy eating is not just about cutting back, it’s about making the right choices. Most people need to add more fruits and veggies to their diet which not only help to prevent heart disease but also may prevent cancer and improve diabetes.


While deciding on meals, remember that you want to limit the amount of fats in your diet, saturated and trans-fat should be limited and avoided. Try to keep saturated fat to no more than 10% of your daily calories and try to keep trans-fat out of your diet all together.


Major sources of saturated fat:

    • Red Meat
    • Dairy products
    • Coconut & palm oil


Sources of trans-fat include:

    • Deep-fried fast foods
    • Bakery products
    • Packaged snack foods
    • Margarines
    • Crackers


Hint: If the nutritional information includes the term “partially hydrogenate,” it means the product contains trans-fat


Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help to protect your heart; beans, low-fat sources of protein, and certain types of fish can also reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating several servings a week of fish like salmon or mackerel may decrease your risk of a heart attack.


You also want to be sure to avoid foods high in sodium, which is the chemical name for salt. The words salt and sodium are not the same, although they are often used in place of each other. 90% of the sodium we ingest is a form of salt. The recommended daily sodium intake is 1,500 mg however the average American’s daily sodium intake is 3,400 mg-


Steps to help reduce your sodium intake:

    • Stop adding salt to your food
    • Avoid processed and pre-made foods
    • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains
    • Learn to read food labels


A reduction of 25% in sodium content food categories could result in an 11% reduction in total daily sodium consumption. Excess sodium intake contributes to high rates of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke; according to the CDC, reducing average population sodium consumption by 400 mg has been projected to avert up to 28,000 deaths from any cause and saves $7 billion in health care expenditures annually. Other studies have indicated that a reduced sodium diet can reduce the risk of gastro-esophageal cancer, reduces left ventricular mass, and leads to preserved bone mass.


Eating a heart healthy diet also means keeping a close eye on the amount of alcohol you consume. If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s better for your heart to do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65 and up to two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger. At a moderate level, alcohol can actually have a protective effect on your heart however more than that can become a health hazard.


Another major risk to your heart health could be your sugar intake. Excess sugar intake can increase the odds of heart attack, diabetes, obesity, among other health concerns.


Check Out These Easy Sugar Swaps to Help Reduce Your Daily Intake of Sugar:

Baking & Cooking- unsweetened apple sauce can often be used as a substitute for sugar in recipes which means you might need less oil. Experiment with your recipes until you find the flavor and texture you enjoy. Not keen on the apple sauce? Try a no-calorie sweetener suitable for cooking and baking

Tea & Coffee- Swap your sugar (and your honey and agave too, while they may be natural they are also naturally sugary!) for a no-calorie sweetener. The general rule is that one packet equals about two teaspoons of sugar and can save you up to 25 calories per serving

Snack Mix & Granola- Try making your own without added sugars! Make a combination of your favorite nuts and seeds (unsalted or lightly salted, let’s not un-do all the progress we made with our low-sodium diet!) raisins, and dried fruit (also unsweetened…see the pattern here?), rolled oats, and whole-grain cereal (minus the frosted cornflakes or other added sugar!), skip the candy, and you’ve got your very own signature trail mix!

Soda & Soft Drinks- Try to ditch the sugary carbonated drink with flat or sparkling water flavored with mint, cucumber, lemon, or with a splash of 100% fruit juice. Flavored seltzers are all the rage right now, you’d be surprised at the variety of flavors! So if you’re taste buds are piqued at the flavors of grapefruit, lime, pomegranate, or other yummy fruit, check out your local grocer, they are affordable and delicious!

Dressings & Sauces- Try to toss out the store bought versions of salad dressings, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and ketchup. These can have a lot of unexpected added sugars but when you make them yourself you can control the amount of sugar added to them

Desserts & Sweets- I know! How can you have a sweet dessert without sugar? It IS possible, trust us! Instead of indulging in the traditional savory sugariness of your typical dessert items, why not indulge in the decadent eruption of flavor from fruit? Fresh, frozen, and even canned fruit (when canned in its own natural juices) are all great options for a sumptuous dessert! Have fun experimenting baking, grilling, stewing, or poaching your fruit until you find just the right dish to satisfy your sweet tooth!


Heart Healthy Eating isn’t all about depriving yourself of delicious foods and heavenly flavors! You can still ignite your senses and taste buds with delightful concoctions that are low in sodium & sugar but high in flavor and heart health benefits! Check out some of these recipes for a fresh idea for a family meal!


For breakfast, why not try a Raspberry Mango Breakfast Parfait?



2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed if frozen 1 medium mango, diced (about 1 1/2 cups) 4 6-ounce containers fat-free, sugar-free vanilla yogurt 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Nutrition Facts

Calories 169 Total Fat 0.5 g Saturated Fat 0.0 g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g Cholesterol 4 mg Sodium 99 mg Carbohydrates 35 g Fiber 5 g Sugars 25 g Protein 6 g



  1. In each of 4 parfait glasses or wine goblets, spoon 2 tablespoons raspberries, 2 tablespoons mango, and a heaping 1/3 cup yogurt. Repeat the layers, using all the remaining yogurt.
  2. In a food processor or blender, process the remaining raspberries and mango with the sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Spoon over each serving.


Or perhaps a Pork Tenderloin with Warm Fruit Salad for Lunch…



1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 1-pound pork tenderloin, all visible fat discarded

1 teaspoon canola oil or corn oil, 1 teaspoon canola or corn oil, divided use

½ medium red bell pepper finely chopped

¼ red onion, finely chopped 1 medium fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs discarded, finely chopped

1 8-oz. can of pineapple tidbits in their own juice, drained well

¼ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


Nutrition Facts

Calories 251

Total Fat 9.0g

Saturated Fat 3.0g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0g

Monounsaturated Fat 4.5g

Cholesterol 78mg

Sodium 206mg

Carbohydrates 17g

Fiber 2g

Sugar 13g

Protein 25g



  1. In a small bowl, stir together the curry powder, cumin, allspice, and salt. Sprinkle the mixture all over the pork. Using your fingertips, gently press the mixture so it adheres to the pork. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Brown the pork for about 1 minute on each side, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to an 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish.
  4. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the pork registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cutting board. Let stand for 3 minutes. Cut crosswise into slices, saving the juices.
  5. While the pork stands, wipe the skillet with a damp paper towel. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the bell pepper, onion, and jalapeño for 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender-crisp, stirring frequently. Stir in the pineapple, raisins, and cilantro. Cook for 1 minute, or until thoroughly heated. Remove from the heat.
  6. Just before serving, drizzle the pork with the reserved pan juices. Serve the fruit salsa on the side.


How does Oven Fried Chicken with Roasted Potato Wedges Sound?Ingredients (Chicken)

Ingredients (Chicken)

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 whole, skinless chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


Ingredients (Potatoes)

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 large potatoes (peeled if desired), cut into ¼ inch wide strips
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley


Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 261
  • Total Fat 7.5g
  • Saturated Fat 2.0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 2.0g
  • Cholesterol 167mg
  • Sodium 209mg
  • Potassium 1418mg
  • Carbohydrates 43g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Sugar 2g
  • Protein 55g
  • Calcium 73mg



Preparation (Chicken):

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place over a baking sheet
  2. Cut chicken into 8 pieces: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks
  3. In a shallow dish, combine buttermilk and egg, whisk well
  4. In a separate shallow dish, combine flour, paprika, and black pepper, stirring well
  5. One piece at a time, dip chicken in buttermilk mixture then coat with flour and place on baking rack
  6. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray and bake 30 minutes, turn chicken and bake 20 more minutes until the center reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees (Optional: If you prefer darker brown, crispier chicken, turn on the oven’s broiler for the last two minutes but keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn!)


Preparation (Potatoes):

  1. After chicken is done, keep oven at 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray
  2. Arrange potato wedges on cookie sheets so none overlap and coat lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, pepper, and parsley
  3. Sprinkle herb mixture over potatoes and bake for 15 minutes
  4. Stir and bake 15 minutes more until wedges pierce easily with a fork



Remember, teaching your children and your family healthy eating habits will benefit them for life, so start early and they will adopt heart healthy eating habits for life!


These great recipes and more can help to provide delicious heart healthy options for every meal of the day! For more great heart healthy recipes or to browse cookbooks from the American Heart Association, visit:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Recipes/Delicious-Decisions-Cookbooks-and-Recipes-from-American-Heart-Association_UCM_452733_SubHomePage.jsp