Food for Heart

The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines include this heart-healthy statement:

Strong and consistent evidence shows that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, is associated with reduced blood levels of total cholesterol and of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol). Additionally, strong and consistent evidence shows that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats is associated with a reduced risk of CVD events (heart attacks) and CVD-related deaths.”

This is news you can use, but needs some interpretation. "It’s unfortunate that the Dietary Guidelines lack the specifics which will drive public behavior. For the past 20 years, I have been sharing my dietary guidelines through the Heart Series, a 12-week intensive program designed to give people the tools they need to improve their overall health and prevent and reduce cardiovascular disease. One of our early clients asked, 'why can’t you just put it all on one page?' So we did," said Charles Katzenberg, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson and board-certified cardiologist at UA Sarver Heart Center who specializes in preventing heart disease.

Dr. Katzenberg crop

Walk towards a plant-based diet

  1. Real food – meaning it isn’t processed
  2. Whole food – you can recognize what it is
  3. Whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice - multigrain does not mean whole grain
  4. Legumes – beans, lentils, peanuts, peas
  5. Vegetables – fresh or frozen
  6. Fruit (whole, not juice)
  7. Water
  8. Unsweetened drinks from soy, almonds, rice, or flax
  9. Quinoa, Chia, Amaranth, nuts, seeds
  10. Broiled, baked, steamed, raw
  11. Fiber – 25+ grams/day  (read the Nutrition Facts label)
  12. Be aware of calorie content and portion sizes

 Run away from the Western Diet aka Standard American Diet (SAD)

  1. Processed food – packaged (crackers, chips, cookies, cake, cereal)
  2. Processed grains – white bread, white rice, pasta
  3. Trans fats (hydrogenated or interesterified oils – read the ingredients)
  4. Processed meat – hot dogs, sausage, lunch meats - turkey, chicken, ham
  5. Meat – especially beef, but also pork, lamb, poultry
  6. Added sugars – read the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup)
  7. Added fats – read the ingredients (plant or animal-derived oils eg soybean oil or lard)
  8. Saturated fats (predominantly in meat and dairy)
  9. Fruits juices or soda
  10. Fried anything
  11. Excess calories, portion sizes, second helpings, grazing, fast foods

If you are inspired to find out more information about what you are eating or considering to eat, two websites to explore are and

Bon appétit!

For more health information, please visit our Heart Health page.
For physician appointment information, please call 520-MyHeart (694-3278).

If this information is useful to you, please consider a donation to support University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center's research and education mission.