myChart login

Heart & Vascular

Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)


Research shows that you can lower their heart disease risk enormously - by 82 percent - simply by leading a healthy lifestyle. In most cases, that means following a heart-healthy eating plan, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Some people may need to take medication to control heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

You can greatly improve the condition of your heart by eating healthfully. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans tells you to:

  • Choose a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat
  • Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains
  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily
  • Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation
  • The Dietary Guidelines also emphasize that you should aim for a healthy weight, by being physically active each day.

If you have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, you may need to make some additional lifestyle changes. The WakeMed Heart-Healthy Food Pyramid is an educational tool that can help you make healthy eating choices for you and your family with the hopes of lowering your risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Heart Healthy Recipes (searchable database)

 WakeMed Heart-Healthy Food Pyramid



3-5 servings daily
1 cup raw vegetables
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable juice
  • Choose fresh, frozen or low salt vegetables without sauces and glazes.
  • Prepare your vegetables steamed and add a small amount of oil, liquid or soft margarine, or reduced sodium bouillon or broth.
  • Flavor with herbs, spices, lemon juice or vinegar in place of salt.
  • For a meat flavor, use a small piece of lean mean or a low-sodium liquid smoke.
2-4 servings daily
1 medium banana, orange, pear, apple
1/2 cup fresh or canned fruit
1/2 cup fruit juice
2 Tablespoons dried fruits (raisins, etc.)
  • Choose fresh, frozen or dried fruits most often.
  • Limit or avoid fruit juices to help manage weight and blood sugars.
  • Choose fruits without added sugar whenever possible.
6-10 servings daily
1 slice bread
3/4 cup dry cereal
1/3 cup rice, grits, cooked cereal or pasta
6 crackers (choose lower fat varieties)
  • Choose whole grain products whenever possible, such as whole wheat bread, high-fiber cereal, whole wheat pasta.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice to increase your fiber.
  • Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber each day.


2-3 servings daily

1/3 cup cooked dried beans, peas or lentils
1/2 cup tofu or soy beans (edemame)
1 soy burger
3 oz. cooked fish, seafood or poultry
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • Eat 2 or more servings of fish per week.
  • Choose lean cooking methods for seafood, fish and poultry (bake, broil or grill).
  • Trim fat and remove skin from poultry.
2-3 servings daily
1 to 2 ounces nonfat or low-fat cheese
8 ounces non-fat or low-fat milk or yogurt
  • Choose flavorful cheese to get good flavor with smaller quantities.
  • Choose sugar-free fruited yogurt whenever possible.
  • If you have trouble digesting milk or dairy products, try lactase enzyme pills or use lactose-free milk products.
  • Avoid whole-milk products.
2-3 servings daily

1 teaspoon oil, liquid or soft margarine
1 Tablespoon reduced-calorie salad dressing or light mayonnaise
1-2 Tablespoons nuts or seeds
1/8 of a medium avocado
10 small or 5 large olives*
  • Choose canola or olive oil, liquid or low-fat tub margarine.
  • Try non-stick vegetable sprays, reduced fat or fat-free products.
  • Avoid stick margarine, butter, shortening, lard, meat fat, fatback, and products prepared with palm, coconut or hydrogenated oils.




Choose a combination of:
  • Aerobic Activity – fast walking, swimming, jumping rope,bicycling, etc.
  • Strength Training – sit-ups, push-ups, weight lifting, etc.
  • Stretching – touching your toes, reaching for the sky, yoga, pilates, etc.
3-4 servings weekly
3 oz. cooked lean meat (beef, pork or venison); 1 egg (limit yolks to 3 per week)
  • Choose lean cuts of meat such as round or loin cuts.
  • Trim fat and remove skin.
  • Bake, broil, roast, microwave or grill meats in place of frying.
  • Add more meatless meals into your eating plan.
  • Limit red meats such as beef, pork and venison to no more than 3 servings per week.
  • Avoid or reduce your intake of fatty meats such as bacon, sausage, regular ground beef and fried chicken.
  • Animal fats, butter, stick margarine, vegetable shortening, creamy salad dressings, mayonnaise, fatty meats, chicken skin, whole-milk products, commercial pastries, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, biscuits, chips, french fries, fried foods
  • Soda, sweet tea, other sweetened drinks, ice cream, commercial pastries, cookies, muffins, cake, doughnuts, candy

Download a Print Version (pdf)

Nutrition information created by WakeMed dietitians.
Additional nutrition services are available.
Please call 350-7827 for more information.