Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Heart

Published on
By : dLife Editors

By: Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

February is American Heart Month and people with diabetes need to protect their heart with healthy eating, physical activity and by taking the proper medications if needed. According to the American Diabetes Association, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke.

The general nutrition recommendations for a healthy heart healthy include:

Decrease saturated fat

Saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels. It is found in butter, red meat, bacon, sausage, cheese, cream, and whole milk. It comes mainly from animal products.

Decrease trans-fat

Trans Fat can also raise blood cholesterol and is found in small amounts in red meat, but most trans fat is created. It is created when manufacturers use hydrogenated oils; therefore it is found in a lot of processed foods. Read labels and choose foods without trans fat

Choose foods higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

Foods high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats include almonds, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. These fats may have a beneficial effect on your blood cholesterol. Remember; keep these foods in moderation if you need to lose weight.

Eat fish two times per week

According to the American Heart Association eating fish two times per week can lower your risk of heart disease. Fish such as, salmon, tuna and mackerel are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may decrease the risk of blood clots and can also lower triglyceride levels.

Eat more nuts

The FDA has stated that “evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” This included peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans.

Eat high-fiber foods

Fiber may help lower cholesterol. Foods high in fiber include whole-wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal, fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, and high-fiber cereals.

Easy nutrition tips you can try today to follow the above recommendations:

  • Try reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese on your tacos in place of regular cheese.
  • Use lean ground turkey for a burger instead of beef.
  • Substitute a small piece of fresh fruit at lunch for chips or pretzels.
  • Try breading fish in crushed cornflakes or bran flakes and baking it instead of frying.
  • Add some toasted almonds to your salad instead of croutons.
  • Try making a bran muffin (use All-Bran cereal – the recipe is on the box) for breakfast. You can make a bunch and freeze them.
  • Add a slice of avocado to your turkey sandwich instead of cheese.
  • Make tuna salad with light mayonnaise and extra celery; serve in a whole-wheat pita.
  • Have 5 whole-wheat crackers with 2 teaspoons peanut butter for an afternoon snack.
  • Make a yogurt parfait for breakfast – use light yogurt, fresh berries, and toasted almonds.
  • Add walnuts and cinnamon to your oatmeal for a twist.
  • Substitute a bean soup and salad with light dressing for your cream soup and bread.
  • Try trans-fat free margarine in place of butter or other margarine.
  • Try making a chicken chili instead of traditional beef chili – use chicken breast and white beans.

See the recipe below for a great bowl of Chicken Chili – chicken breast is much lower in saturated fat than ground beef and the beans provide a good source of fiber.

Chicken chilli

White Chicken Chili

Yield: 7 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup


Cooking spray
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern Beans, undrained
1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 4-ounce can mild green chilies, diced
½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Coat a large soup pot with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Spray pan again with cooking spray.
  3. Saute onion and carrots about 4 minutes until onions are clear.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients and chicken and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information: 210 Calories, 3g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 39mg Cholesterol, 588mg Sodium, 21g Total Carbohydrate, 6g Dietary Fiber, 5g Sugars, 22g Protein

Copyright © American Diabetes Association from Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking. Reprinted with permission from The American Diabetes Association.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.