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The 10 rules of a heart-healthy diet
- By Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
The latest guidelines give you the flexibility to create a healthy diet that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Eating a healthy diet is a cornerstone of treating and preventing heart disease. That’s easy to understand, but sometimes hard to implement. There’s no one-size-fits-all eating plan that will work for everyone. With that in mind, the American Heart Association updated its dietary guidelines for the first time in 15 years. Rather than listing dos and don’ts of specific nutrients (such as protein or fat), the new guidelines — published online Nov. 2, 2021, by Circulation — focus on healthy eating patterns. As long as you stay within the following rules, you can tailor a heart-healthy diet to your tastes and needs.
1.Balance your calorie intake with physical activity. Weight gain is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and taking in more calories than you burn off leads to weight gain. Talk to a dietitian to find out how many calories you need to eat considering how active you are. It may only require a few tweaks to your diet to have the calories you eat balance the calories you burn during activity. "Maybe you need to reduce fast food and make room for nutritious foods. Or maybe your portions are too large. For instance, your salad might include a cup of beans when a quarter-cup is more appropriate," says Liz Moore, a registered dietitian at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices
Eat real food. That’s the essence of today’s nutrition message. Our knowledge of nutrition has come full circle, back to eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Based on a solid foundation of current nutrition science, Harvard’s Special Health Report A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices describes how to eat for optimum health.
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