Cardiovascular Diet Plan

Your cardiovascular diet plan will follow a heart healthy diet as promulgated by the American Heart Association. In order to start living a heart healthy lifestyle, learn what foods are heart beneficial and which foods have the opposite effect. Other areas to concern yourself with involve food preparation, food content and physical activity.

  1. Heart Healthy Foods

    • Your cardiovascular diet plan needs to include foods that are both fiber- and antioxidant-rich, according to both the American Heart Association and the USDA. Known for increasing your "good" (HDL) and decreasing your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels, these foods improve functioning of the heart. Heart healthy foods include whole grains (brown rice, oats and barley), beans and lentils, healthy oils (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties), nuts and seeds, plus a variety of fruits and vegetables.

      Eat oatmeal. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 1 and 1/2 cup serving of oatmeal contains 6 g of soluble fiber. Add a sliced banana and you increase the fiber by 4 g, for a total of 10 g. The USDA recommends getting 10 g of soluble fiber daily as part of your cardiovascular diet plan.

      Eat olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, contains cholesterol-lowering properties while being high in antioxidants. Use this in place of butter.

      Eat plant sterols. Plant sterols, according to the American Dietetic Association and the USDA, contain antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties. Foods high in plant sterols include soy foods such as tempeh, soy milk, tofu, miso and soybeans. Other notable sources include walnuts, ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds and avocados.

    Heart Harming Foods

    • Avoid, or limit, foods containing saturated and/or trans fats in your cardiovascular diet plan. These fats are known for increasing your "bad" cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association and the USDA, saturated fats are found in animal products such as red meats and organ meats, plus whole-fat dairy foods including butter and egg yolks. Saturated fats are also found in deep-fried foods, prepackaged foods, processed foods and meats plus many fast foods.

      Trans fats are hardened fats such as shortening and partially hydrogenated oils. These fats are commonly found in commercially baked goods such as cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, energy bars and pastries.

    Exercise

    • Get your exercise. According to the American Heart Association, increasing your physical activity results in many health benefits and needs to be included in your cardiovascular diet plan. Exercise lowers LDL and increases HDL levels. The exercise does not have to be strenuous in order to get heart healthy results. Alternate your activities to make it easier to stay with your program.

    Other Considerations

    • Read labels. Know what you are eating and understand the contents. Look for fat content, broken down into saturated and trans varieties. Also, the first ingredient listed will be what is most prevalent in the product.

      Use heart healthy cooking methods. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can hinder your cardiovascular diet plan and increase your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level by preparing your foods incorrectly. Steaming, poaching, grilling and baking (without excessive oils) are heart healthy ways to cook.

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References

  • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Release 20; USDA; 2008
  • Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?; Team Medicine; Virginia Mason; 2008
  • American Dietetic Association

Resources

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