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How to Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet

You can reduce your risk of coronary disease just by eating certain foods.


  • Step 1: Eat lots of fiber Choose high-fiber foods, starting with a bowl of cereal for breakfast that contains at least three grams of fiber. Every 10 grams of dietary fiber added to your daily diet can reduce your risk of heart disease by 27 percent.
  • TIP: Think "B" – beans, berries, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Bread, too, as long as it's whole-grain.
  • Step 2: Go nuts Eat a handful – about 2 ounces – of unsalted nuts as often as five times a week. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios are all loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which raise good cholesterol and lower bad.
  • TIP: According to a study, replacing one daily serving of carbohydrates with nuts can reduce your heart disease risk by 30 percent. Replace an equal serving of saturated fat, like meat or cheese, with nuts and you may slash it as much as 45 percent.
  • Step 3: Eat your vegetables Eat at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Going from less than three servings a day to more than five can lower your risk of heart disease by 17 percent.
  • Step 4: Snack on apples Snack on apples: Besides being a great source of fiber, an apple a day can keep a heart attack at bay, thanks to high levels of the antioxidant quercetin. Study participants who ate three apples a day for three months reduced their cholesterol by a minimum of 20 points.
  • Step 5: Have a drink Enjoy an alcoholic beverage every day – two if you're a man. It can cut your risk of dying of a heart attack and reduce your chances of having a stroke. Just remember always to drink in moderation.
  • TIP: A 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits constitutes one drink.
  • Step 6: Pick fortified foods Eat foods fortified with sterols or stanols, plant substances that fight cholesterol. Common products that often contain these include orange juice, yogurt, salad dressing, and butter-substitute spread.
  • Step 7: Use olive oil Aim to replace butter or margarine with two tablespoons of cholesterol-lowering olive oil per day.
  • FACT: In a long-term study, optimistic people were 23 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than pessimists.

You Will Need

  • High-fiber foods
  • Nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • An apple a day
  • One or two daily alcoholic beverages
  • Foods fortified with sterols or stanols
  • Olive oil
  • Foods beginning with "B

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