February 4, 2015

Selecting Heart Healthy Foods

Did you know February is American Heart Month? There are many simple things you can do to decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke, including eating a healthy diet low in sodium and monitoring your blood pressure.

To help you determine which foods promote heart health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shares the following shopping list:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Any fresh fruits, like apples, oranges or bananas
  • Any fresh vegetables, like spinach, carrots or broccoli
  • Frozen vegetables without added sauce
  • Canned vegetables that are low in sodium or have no salt added
  • Low sodium vegetable juice
  • Frozen or dried fruit (unsweetened)
  • Canned fruit (packed in water or 100 percent juice)

Breads, Cereals and Grains

  • Rice or pasta
  • Unsweetened oatmeal
  • Unsalted popcorn

Meats, Nuts and Beans

  • Fish or shellfish
  • Chicken or turkey breast without skin
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Peas and beans
  • Canned beans labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium”
  • Eggs

Milk and Milk Products

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Low- or reduced-sodium cheese (like Natural Swiss Cheese)
  • Soy milk with added calcium

Dressings, Oils and Condiments

  • Unsalted margarine and spreads (soft, tub, or liquid) with no trans fats
  • Vegetable oils (canola, olive, peanut, or sesame)
  • Sodium-free, light mayonnaise and salad dressing
  • Vinegar


  • Herbs, spices or salt-free seasoning blends
  • Chopped vegetables, such as garlic, onions, and peppers
  • Lemons and limes
  • Ginger

A good rule of thumb when shopping is to choose fresh foods instead of processed foods whenever possible. You should also review the nutritional label of foods to check the amount of sodium in the foods you eat. A sodium content of 20 percent daily value (DV) or more is high.

For information about what you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke, visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.