Heart Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

By Oasis Clinics February 27, 2024

Heart Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, changing your eating habits is often tough. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Control Your Portion Size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Following a few simple tips to control food portion size can help you shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline: Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions. Eat more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Eat smaller amounts of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed, or fast foods.

2. Eat More Vegetables & Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Choose recipes with vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.

3. Select Whole Grains

Whole grains are good sources of fibre and other nutrients that regulate blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.

4. Limit Unhealthy Fats

Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reducing your blood cholesterol and lowering your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in the arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

There are simple ways to cut back on saturated and trans fats:
  • Trim fat off meat or choose lean meats with less than 10% fat.
  • Use less butter, margarine, and shortening when cooking and serving.
  • Use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top a baked potato with low-sodium salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use the sliced whole fruit or low-sugar fruit spread on toast instead of margarine.
  • Check the food labels of cookies, cakes, frostings, crackers, and chips. Not only are these foods low in nutritional value, some — even those labeled reduced fat — may contain trans fats. Trans fats are no longer allowed to be added to foods, but older products may still contain them. Trans fats may be listed as partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient label.
  • When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in certain fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.
  • An easy way to add healthy fat (and fibre) to your diet is to use ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that flaxseed lowers unhealthy cholesterol levels in some people. You can grind the flaxseeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce, or hot cereal.
5. Choose Low-Fat Protein Sources

Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of the best sources of protein. Choose lower fat options, such as skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties and skim milk rather than whole milk.

  • Fish is a good alternative to high-fat meats. Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You’ll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, and canola oil.
  • Legumes — beans, peas, and lentils — also are good, low-fat sources of protein and contain no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Substituting plant protein for animal protein — for example, a soy or bean burger for a hamburger — will reduce fat and cholesterol intake and increase fibre intake.
6. Limit or Reduce Salt (Sodium)

Eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting salt (sodium) is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that:

  • Healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt).
  • Most adults ideally have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
  • Another way to reduce the amount of salt you eat is to choose your condiments carefully. Many condiments are available in reduced-sodium versions. Salt substitutes can add flavour to your food with less sodium. A great substitution for salt is garlic and/or onion which are very beneficial, unless you have a GIT illness or problems digesting it. You can also use lime, lemon, and vinegar
7. Drink Enough Water

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. Water helps your heart pump blood more easily by preventing your blood from becoming too thick, which can lead to increased blood pressure. Additionally, staying hydrated helps your body remove toxins and waste products, reducing the burden on your kidneys and liver. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, adjusting as needed for your activity level and climate. Drinking enough water can also aid in weight management, a key factor in heart health.

8. Plan Ahead: Create Daily Menus

Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasise vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and healthy fats, and limit salty foods. Watch your portion sizes and add variety to your menu choices.


While the strategies listed stem from evidence-based medicine, individual needs may vary. Always consult with your doctor before making significant changes to your lifestyle, especially if you have existing health conditions or concerns. It’s important to note that this article serves as guidance only. Taking certain lifestyle changes to extremes can lead to adverse effects, including disorders such as bulimia or anorexia. Additionally, be mindful of food allergies when altering your diet. Extreme dietary restrictions or changes should be approached with caution and under professional guidance. The Oasis Clinics team is here to support you with personalised advice and treatment plans tailored to your unique health profile, ensuring that your journey towards a heart-healthy lifestyle is both safe and effective.