Organizing your plate can help heart health

Eat healthy by balancing calories, eating less of some foods, and eating more of other types of foods.

Prevention is the key to a healthy heart. Taking a careful look at your physical activity and the foods you eat is a key step toward a healthy heart. The USDA’s MyPlate is a tool you can use to help make good food choices. It focuses on several important ideas: balancing calories, eating more of some types of foods and eating less of other foods. MyPlate also offers nutrition messages through the visual of a plate to help us make wise choices about fruit, vegetable, grain, dairy and protein intakes and other foods. Below are some heart-healthy tips from MyPlate.

  • Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. By choosing a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables such as red, green, orange, yellow and white, your diet will have plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eat more of these colorful foods for a variety of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are naturally are low in calories and fat. Additives such as margarine, butter, sour cream, oils and sugar add extra calories and fat. Too much fat is not good for the heart.
  • Make half of your grains whole grains. Grain foods include breads, cereals, rice, crackers, pasta and other carbohydrate foods. If you don’t know whether a grain product is whole grain, look to the ingredient list to see if the first ingredient is a whole grain. Items in the list are ordered by weight; the first ingredients make up most of the food. So if the first ingredient is whole wheat flour, that’s a good sign that the food is a good source of whole grains. A diet high in whole grains is a heart healthy diet.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat (one percent) milk products. Dairy foods are good sources of calcium which are important for our bones and teeth. However, dairy foods can be high in fat which adds extra calories to our diet. Low-fat or fat-free dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein but are much lower in fat.
  • Balancing calories means to enjoy your foods but eat less. MyPlate offers several tools to learn about how many calories you need or how many servings to eat. The SuperTracker tool allows you to enter gender, weight, height and activity level and then offers information about how many foods from each food group to eat each day.
  • Eat fewer high-sodium foods such as frozen dinners, bread and some canned foods like soup. Check the Nutrition Facts Label on the food packaging to find out how much sodium is in each serving of the food.
  • Choose water to drink instead of sugary beverages such as soda.

By following the suggestions of MyPlate, you can make your plate a “Healthy Plate” good for your overall health and good for your heart!

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