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This section is devoted to general heart healthy guidelines for meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, breads, and other food groups. We will also include some selected food guide which will change throughout the year, so check back often.

Many people have general questions concerning the food they like to eat versus the food they should eat. Dining at home can be much different than dining out or catching a quick lunch between business meetings. Your budget doesn't have to be strained to eat heart healthy at home. The following are some general guidelines for selecting and preparing your food. Before we get to the recommended food guide, we will first discuss the food groups and their recommended preparation and how to choose the healthiest food for you and your family.


Meat, Poultry and Fish

Eat lean meat, poultry and fish in moderate amounts. Most fish and poultry have fewer calories than fatty cuts of red meat. They do contain cholesterol, though, so keep portions the same as for red meat. Lean red meat is available; look for it at your meat counter. 

Select meat with the least amount of visible fat. This means buying meat with little marbling (fat in the muscle tissue) and not much fat around the edges. Before eating beef, pork or lamb, trim off as much fat as you can. When buying ground beef, choose the leanest meat available and drain off the fat after cooking it. 

Prepare meats using low-fat preparation methods. (Broil or bake instead of frying.) 

Chill meat juices and skim off the fat before adding them to stews, soups and gravy. 

Avoid high-fat processed meat products such as bologna, frankfurters, salami and bacon. Use chicken, turkey or fish as sandwich fillings instead. 

Liver, tongue, kidneys, sweetbreads, heart and brains are very high in cholesterol, so don't eat them often. Liver is an especially good source of iron, so you can eat it in small amounts occasionally. But don't eat more than three ounces of liver per month. 

In poultry most fat is right under the skin, so remove the skin before or after cooking (except when roasting a whole chicken). 

Shrimp and crayfish are higher in cholesterol than other seafood. Because of their very low saturated fat, eating them in moderation is okay. 

Meat 'shrinks' when cooked. For each three- ounce serving of cooked meat, fish or poultry, buy an extra ounce or two to allow for shrinkage and waste. Allow two extra ounces for meat with bone. 

Limit your consumption of eggs to three to four a week, counting those used in cooking. Be sure to eat only cooked (not raw) eggs and egg whites.
Note: The cholesterol in eggs is found only in the yolks. For example, if you cook three scrambled eggs, toss out two of the yolks and leave just one. You can't tell the difference and you have created a healthier diet for yourself. Each egg yolk contains 213 mg of cholesterol.


Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are important parts of a weight- reducing diet because they're low in calories and high in nutrients.

In selecting vegetables and fruits to eat each day, choose at least one that's a good source of vitamin A and one that's a good source of vitamin C.

A serving of vegetables is half a cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of raw vegetables.  Each serving contains approximately 20 calories.  Here are some common vegetables that are good choices. 

  • Asparagus (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beans, green
  • Beans, waxed
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Cauliflower (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Celery
  • Collards (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce (leaf)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peas (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Peppers (green) (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Peppers (hot red) (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Radishes
  • Sauerkraut (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Spinach (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Squash, summer (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Tomatoes (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Turnip greens (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Turnips (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Vegetable juice cocktail (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Zucchini

Fruits

Fruits and fruit juices should be unsweetened, fresh or canned without sugar.  The following servings contain an average of 60 calories. 

  • Apple, raw, 2 3/4" diameter (1)
  • Apple juice or cider (1/2 cup)
  • Apples, dried, uncooked
  • Applesauce, canned, unsweetened (1/2 cup)
  • Apricots, medium, raw (4) (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Apricots, dried, uncooked (7 halves)
  • Banana, (1/2)
  • Blackberries, raw (3/4cup)
  • Cantaloupe (1 cup cubes) (Good source of vitamins A and C)
  • Cherries, sweet, raw (12) (Good source of vitamin A)
  • Dates (2 1/2)
  • Figs, dried, uncooked (1 1/2)
  • Figs, medium, raw (2)
  • Fruit cocktail, canned, juice-packed (1/2 cup)
  • Grapefruit (1/2) (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Grapes, raw (15)
  • Honeydew melon (1 cup cubes) (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Kiwifruit (1 large)
  • Mango, raw (1/2)
  • Nectarine, 2 1/2" diameter (1)
  • Orange,' 2 1/2" diameter (1)
  • Orange juice (1/2 cup) (Good source of vitamin C)
  • Papaya (1 cup, cubes)
  • Peach, 2 1/2" diameter (1)
  • Peaches, canned, water-packed (2 halves)
  • Pineapple, raw (3/4 cup)
  • Pineapple, canned, juice-packed (1/3 cup)
  • Pineapple juice (1/2 cup)
  • Plums, raw, 2 1/8" diameter (2)
  • Pomegranate (half)
  • Prune juice (1/3 cup)
  • Prunes, uncooked (3)
  • Raspberries, raw (1 cup)
  • Raisins (2 Tbsp.)
  • Strawberries, raw, whole (1 1/4 cups)(Good source of vitamin C)
  • Tangerine, 2 1/2" diameter (2)
  • Watermelon (1 1/2 cups cubes

Breads

To get the maximum nutritional benefit, use whole grain or enriched products.  Any of the following counts as one serving and has, on average, 80 calories. 

  • Bagel (1/2)
  • Bread sticks, 4" long x 1/2" diameter (2)
  • Bread, white, whole wheat, rye, oatmeal, pumpernickel (1 slice)
  • Croutons, plain bread crumbs (1 cup)
  • English muffin (1/2)
  • Hamburger or hot dog bun (1/2)
  • Pita, 6" diameter (1/2)
  • Roll, plain, 1oz. (1)
  • Tortilla, corn, 6" diameter,(1)

Dairy Products

Use skim or 1/2% fat milk fortified with vitamins A and D. Each of the following is a serving and has an average of 100 calories. 

  • Skim or 1/2% fat milk (1 cup)
  • Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt (1 cup)

Cheese

  • Cottage cheese, I% fat or dry curd (1/2 cup)
  • Dry, grated cheese, e.g., dry Parmesan (1 Tbsp.) (1/4 oz.)
  • Low-fat cheese, 3 g fat or less per oz. (1/4 cup diced) (1 oz.)
  • Mozzarella, part-skim milk (1 oz.)
  • Ricotta cheese, low fat (1 oz.)
  • Frozen Desserts
  • Frozen nonfat or low-fat yogurt (1/2 cup)
  • Nonfat or low-fat ice cream (3 g fat or less) (1/2 cup)
  • Sherbet (1/3 cup)

Poly- and Monounsaturated Oils and Margarines, Nuts, Seeds, Salas Dressings

The following portion sizes have an average of 45 calories.

Vegetable Oils 

  • Safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, olive, canola,
  • peanut(1 tsp.)

Margarines

  • Diet margarine (2 tsp.)
  • Margarine with no more than 2 grams of saturated fatty acids per tablespoon (1 tsp.)

Nuts and Seeds

  • Chopped nuts, except coconut ( 1 Tbsp.)
  • Seeds, any variety, without shells (1 Tbsp.)

Salad Dressings

  • French, Italian, Thousand Island or mayonnaise-type salad dressings (1 Tbsp.)
  • Mayonnaise (2 tsp.)

Sweets

Most desserts are high in calories and low in nutrients.  A piece of apple pie contains about 400 calories.  The following sweets contain about 75 calories and 0 to 1 gram of fat.

  • Angel food cake (1 slice - 1/24 of a cake)
  • Candy made primarily with sugar (e.g., candy com, gumdrops, mints and hard candy) (3/4oz.)
  • Carbonated beverage (sweetened) (6 fl. oz.)
  • Fruit ice (1/3 cup)
  • Fruit-flavored gelatin (sweetened) (1/2 cup)
  • Gingersnaps (2)
  • Lemonade (sweetened) (6 fl. oz.)
  • Newton cookie (1)
  • Sherbet (1/3 cup)
  • Sugar, syrup, honey, jam, preserves or marmalade (1 1/2 Tbsp.)

* Above Guidelines provided by the American Heart Association*