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Heart & Vascular

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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)

Choose My Plate



FRUITS Fuel Up With Fruits at Meals or Snacks
Oranges, pears, berries, watermelon, peaches, raisins, and applesauce (without extra sugar) are just a few of the great choices. Make sure your juice is 100% fruit juice.


VEGETABLES Color Your Plate With Great-Tasting Veggies
Try to eat more dark-green, red, and orange vegetables, and beans and peas.


GRAINS Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole Grains
Choose whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-wheat tortillas, brown rice, and light popcorn, more often.


PROTEIN Vary Your Protein Foods
Try fish, shellfish, beans, and peas more often. Some tasty ways include a bean burrito, hummus, veggie chili, fish taco, shrimp or tofu stir-fry, or grilled salmon.


DAIRY Get Your Calcium-Rich Foods
Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese at meals or snacks. Dairy foods contain calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth.