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Heart Disease

Eating for a Healthy Heart

Unfortunately, there are no magic foods to prevent this No. 1 killer. But following a basic, healthful diet can help. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises consuming only as many calories as you need to maintain a healthy weight; eating lots of fruits and vegetables (at least 4.5 cups each day) and whole grains (at least 3 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day); as well as:

The AHA, along with many other recognized authorities, also recommends that people with normal LDL (bad) cholesterol levels should consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day. People with high LDL blood cholesterol levels or who are taking blood cholesterol-lowering medications should eat less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day.  You should know, though, that this guidance has fallen under scrutiny. It seems that for many people, the link is weak between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. For example, eggs -- which have little fat but a whopping 200 milligrams of cholesterol per yolk -- are beginning to regain their good name.

The University of Connecticut reported at the 2006 Experimental Biology conference that consuming eggs did increase blood cholesterol -- both the "bad" low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and the "good" high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). But in those who ate three or more eggs a day, both LDL and HDL particles in the bloodstream were much larger than those in other people. That's significant, because larger LDLs are less likely to damage the arteries, and larger HDLs are better at clearing cholesterol from the bloodstream. Still, the science behind dietary cholesterol recommendations remains under investigation. If you want to be cautious --limit dietary cholesterol.

For more details on eating for a healthy heart, visit the AHA's Nutrition Center.  You may also find Cholesterol - the Good and the Bad helpful.

This article originally appeared in Chow Line (2/18/07) a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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Last Reviewed: Apr 11, 2011

Sharron   Coplin, MS, RD, LD Sharron Coplin, MS, RD, LD
Former Lecturer
Food & Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University