Cardiovascular Disease in Women – Healthy Eating

Eating a variety of foods that are lower in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and sodium, and calories will help you have a healthy heart. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. You should also eat whole grains (barley, brown rice, oatmeal) and high fiber cereals (100% bran, all bran). Avoid too much fatty meat, whole dairy products, and snack foods like potato chips.

How can I cut back on salt and sodium?

If the salt habit is hard to break, take the saltshaker off the table, and cut back slowly. Give yourself time to get used to using less salt. Choose brands that are lower in salt. Also:

Choose more often

  • Chicken and turkey (with skin removed)
  • Fresh fish
  • Low salt or salt free chips, nuts, pretzels
  • Fresh, frozen, or no salt canned vegetables
  • Spices, herbs, and flavorings such as basil

Choose less often

  • Bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs, bologna
  • Canned fish (tuna, sardines, dried cod)
  • Salty chips, crackers, nuts, pretzels
  • Canned vegetables, pickles, olives
  • Soy sauce, ketchup, garlic salt, seasoning salt
How can I cut back on fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol?

You can bake, boil, broil, or barbeque food instead of frying it to cut back on fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Also:

Choose more often

  • Canola, olive, safflower, soybean oils
  • Light margarine, tub margarine
  • Lean meat, like round, extra lean ground beef
  • Poultry without skin
  • Fat free and low fat milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Fruits and vegetables

Choose less often

  • Solid shortening, lard, fatback
  • Butter
  • Ground beef, ribs, bacon, sausage
  • Poultry with skin
  • Whole milk, regular cheese, ice cream
  • Doughnuts and pastries
How can I cut back on calories?

Pay attention to serving sizes. Eat smaller portions, and do not go back for seconds. Eat smaller meals, and healthy, low-fat, low sodium snacks throughout the day instead of one big meal. 

When you eat a meal think of your plate divided into three parts. Serve ½ fruit and vegetables, ¼ pasta, rice, potato, and ¼ lean meat, fish, poultry, or beans. Click here to see an example of a healthy eating plate.

Is it important to eat a variety of heart-healthy foods?

Yes, there is no single food that has the all of the nutrients in the amounts your body needs.

How can I eat healthfully when eating out? Can I eat healthfully at a fast food restaurant?

Fast food restaurants can be very convenient, but fast foods can be higher in fat, sodium, and calories, but you can choose lower fat, lower sodium, and lower calorie foods from the menu. Following are some heart healthy choices when eating out:

  • Order sandwiches without mayonnaise, tartar sauce, or special sauce. Try mustard or low-fat mayonnaise instead.
  • Order a small, plain hamburger instead of a deluxe or super-sized sandwich.
  • Order sandwiches made with lean roast beef or turkey.
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches instead of breaded chicken sandwiches.
  • Choose rotisserie-style chicken rather than fried chicken. Choose a breast or drumstick instead of the wing or thigh. Always remove the skin.
  • Order pizza with vegetable toppings, and ask for ½ the usual amount of cheese. Blot your pizza with a napkin to remove excess grease.
  • Choose water, fruit juice, or low fat or fat free milk rather that a soda or milk shake.
  • Buy the smallest size nonfat yogurt instead of cookies or pies.
What can I do to save money on food?
  • Plan weekly meals and make a shopping list based on the meal plan. Buy only what is on your list.
  • Check food sale ads and use coupons.
  • Make fresh foods at home instead of using prepared items such as frozen entrees, bakery cakes, or salads.
  • Try to avoid shopping at convenience stores; convenience stores can cost more.
  • Shop alone when possible. Family members or friends may try to get you to buy items you do not need.
  • Do not shop when you are hungry.


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