Find out what you need to know about eating a heart-healthy diet. Follow these basic guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to optimum heart health.

Be calorie conscious to control your weight

Weight control is important in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Excess weight makes the heart work harder, causing increased blood pressure. It also raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol. A modest weight loss of at least 10 pounds has been shown to decrease a person’s risk for heart disease as well as diabetes.

To maintain a healthy weight, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended. The secret to this delicate balance is knowing how to determine adequate portion sizes. Cooking Light is working with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA’s MyPlate to give anyone looking for healthier options access to thousands of recipes that will help them create healthy, tasty plates. For more information about creating a healthy plate, visit Find recipes at

Know your fats

Here’s what you need to know about fitting fats into your diet.

  • Monounsaturated Fats: Liquid at room temperature, these plant-based fats can lower cholesterol when used in place of saturated fat in the diet.
    Sources: Canola, olive, and peanut oils; peanuts; pecans; and avocados.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats: These plant- and fish-derived fats can lower cholesterol when they replace saturated fat in the diet. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, a group of polyunsaturated fats that keep the heart healthy, even when consumed in small amounts.
    Sources: Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and sesame oils; sunflower seeds; soybeans; fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon; and most nuts.