MUSC Heart & Vascular Center

Heart and Vascular Center

Nutrition and Weight Loss

Nutrition and weight loss

Adopt a heart healthy eating style over the next year. What you eat is important. It may help you prevent a heart attack or stroke, in addition to improving your overall energy and endurance. Healthy food habits can help you reduce three major risk factors:

Check mark High blood cholesterol
Check mark High blood pressure
Check mark Excess body weight

Nutrition Tips

  • Choose one or two of the following American Heart Association Eating Plan guidelines each month to work on. Before you know it, following a heart healthy eating plan will be a habit.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose five or more per day and aim for a variety of colors.
  • Eat a variety of grain products, including whole grain breads, cereals, crackers and pasta. Choose six or more servings per day.
  • Include fat-free and low-fat milk products, fish, legumes (beans), skinless poultry and lean meats.
  • Choose fats with two grams or less saturated fat per serving, such as liquid and tub margarine, canola and olive oil.
  • Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you use each day.
  • Maintain a level of physical activity that keeps you fit and matches the number of calories you eat.
  • Walk or engage in other activities for at least 30 minutes on four or more days per week. To lose weight, do enough activity to use up more calories than you eat every day.
  • Limit foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, such as whole fat milk products, fatty meats, palm or coconut oils, hydrogenated oils, egg yolks and organ meats.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in calories or low in nutrition, including foods like soft drinks and candy, which are high in sugar.
  • Eat less than 2,400 mg of sodium per day. This is about the same amount found in one teaspoon of salt. Remove the salt shaker from the table immediately to avoid excess sodium intake.
  • Have no more than one alcoholic drink per day if you are a woman and no more than two if you are a man. One drink = six ounces wine, 12 ounces beer or one ounce hard liquor.
  • Use low-fat cooking methods, such as broiling, steaming or grilling instead of frying.

(Please note: The American Heart Association Eating Plan is recommended for all healthy Americans and children more than two years old. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or adults and children with specific medical problems should talk to their healthcare provider or a registered dietitian about their special dietary needs.)


© Medical University of South Carolina | 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425