One-Page Guide to a Heart-Healthy Diet

Do you find the U.S. Dietary Guidelines lacking in specifics on foods to eat or avoid? You're not alone. To help, Charles Katzenberg, MD, compiled a one-page list of heart-healthy foods as part of his Heart Series Dietary Guidelines:

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, such as soybean oil or lard)
  8. Saturated fats (predominantly in meat and dairy)
  9. Fruit juices or soda
  10. Fried anything
  11. Excess calories, portion sizes, second helpings, grazing, fast foods

Here's a summary of current U.S. Dietary Guidelines and Dr. Katzenberg's simplified translation:

  • “Less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat.” Translation: decrease intake of all meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb) and dairy (milk, butter, cheese)
  • “Less than 10% of total calories from added sugar.” Translation: decrease soda, fruit juice, and food with added sugar (identified in the nutrition facts label and under ingredients)
  • “Decrease saturated fat and added sugar.” Translation: decrease foods that are processed and put in packages; cakes, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy

Dr. Katzenberg is a board-certified cardiologist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson and Sarver Heart Center. For more than 20 years, he has offered 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.

For physician appointment information, please call 520-MyHeart (694-3278) or 520-626-2000.

For more health information, please visit our Heart Health page.

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