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What’s a Heart Healthy Diet?

This February, celebrate National American Heart Month by learning more about heart disease prevention.

Lifestyle factors that help prevent risk for stroke include avoiding stress, quitting smoking and exercising regularly. The ability to manage your weight and blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose are all reflective of dietary habits.

Implement a high fiber, low fat diet to get on the right track. Know what to choose when dining out, shop smart at the grocery store and cook often; these are all ways reduce your potential risk.

Here is a Suggested Servings Guide for each food group that will provide the framework for a heart-healthy diet:

  • Grains: Six servings a day half of which are whole- will provide you with an adequate amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Think of one serving as one slice of bread or a baseball-sized portion of cooked rice. 
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Include at least four servings of each daily. The more color in your assortment, the better! Compare one serving to the size of your fist. Dried items and juices should not exceed ¼ cup and ½ cup, respectively.
  • Lean Meats, Poultry and Seafood: All of these protein sources are healthful for your diet, especially because they displace your consumption of saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in fish, reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good! Avoid consuming more than six ounces daily. A three-ounce portion of cooked meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Legumes, nuts and seeds: Legumes, like beans, peas, and lentils, are rich in fiber, protein, and healthful fats. Consume two-cup servings each week to reduce your risk for heart disease. Nuts and seeds should be limited to half-ounce portions.
  • Low fat Dairy: In keeping with a reduced-fat diet, consume low fat or skim varieties of milk, cheese, and other dairy products. Incorporate two to three servings daily of milk or yogurt into your diet. Limit cheese to the equivalent size of six stacked dice.
  • Oils and Dressings: Allow yourself two servings of heart-healthy oils daily. Each portion should not exceed one tablespoon for vegetable oil, mayonnaise, and salad dressing or one-half tablespoon for soft margarine.
  • Sweets and added sugars: Treats like jellies, jams, and sugary candies should be reduced to about one tablespoon per week.

To know where you stand at risk for Coronary Heart Disease, use the Life Assessment Tool from the American Heart Association. Seek counsel from your physician regularly to ensure that your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol are all within a desirable range.

Creamy Parmesan Pasta and Vegetables (Hold the cream!)

Makes: 4 Servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 7 ounces (½ box) Ronzoni Whole Grain Linguini, cooked without salt
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini squash, sliced
  • ¼ tablespoon extra virgin olive-oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • ½ cup America’s Choice Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon light Smart Balance spread
  • 2 ounces fresh basil, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and olive oil. Coat thoroughly. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.
  3. Bring three quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta. Continue to cook for about 12 minutes or until desirable texture.
  4. Heat butter over low to medium in a small saucepan. Add milk.
  5. Stirring vigorously, add the flour. Bring to a boil.
  6. Lower heat and continue to stir for about two to three minutes.
  7. Stir in fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
  8. Pour over roasted vegetables and linguini and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 350 Calories, 8 g Fat (2.5 Sat), 40 mg Cholesterol, 135 mg Sodium, 60 g Carbohydrate, 5 g Fiber, 18 g Protein

Source: American Heart Association (http://heart.org)

Article & Recipe by Domenica Toscani DTR, Creator of Appetite101.com

Article originally published on the Pathmark FB Nutrition Tip Blog



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