Counting the fat, cholesterol grams you eat is not necessary for a heart-healthy diet, says a new report from Harvard Health Publications

A crucial take-home message of Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart, a newly revised report from Harvard Health Publications, is to consider the types of foods that you eat and your overall dietary pattern, rather than focusing on individual nutrients such as fat, dietary cholesterol, or specific vitamins.

"There are no single nutrients or vitamins that can make you healthy. Rather, there is a short list of key foods that together can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease," says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the editor of the report and an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Which foods help your heart, and which hurt it? Here's just a taste of some of the foods discussed in detail in the report.

Foods to eat in abundance (partial list):

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains (such as whole-wheat bread)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Vegetable oils

Foods to avoid:

  • Processed meats
  • Highly refined and processed grains and sugars (such as white bread and sugary baked goods)
  • Sugary drinks (such as soda)

This report also includes 49 heart-healthy recipes created just for Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart by Ellen di Bonaventura, a clinical dietitian at Massachusetts General Hospital. With these recipes, even the novice cook can learn to use heart-healthy foods to create meals that appeal to any palate.

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