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Take it to Heart: Make Smart, Tasty Choices for Healthy Eating

It’s important to understand what to look for when making choices for a heart-healthy eating plan.

Learning about fat and cholesterol can help you make smart choices and let you enjoy a diet abundant in flavorful foods while reducing your fat and cholesterol intake.

Fat and Cholesterol Facts From the American Heart Association:

There are four major fats in the foods we eat: saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.

The “bad fats” are saturated and trans. They raise bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood.

The “better fats” are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. They may help raise good cholesterol (HDL) when consumed in moderation.

We definitely need some fat in our diets – for energy, cell growth, making important hormones, and absorbing some nutrients – but not as much as most of us eat. The fats in the foods you eat should not total more than 25 to 35 percent of the calories you eat in a given day. For good health, the majority of those fats should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat.

Dietary cholesterol is found in some foods – foods of animal origin, particularly meat, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products. Limit your intake of cholesterol from food to less than 300 mg per day.

It’s the overall pattern of choices you make that count when building a heart-healthy diet. It’s easy to select heart-healthy foods – look for vegetables, fruits, whole-grain, high-fiber foods, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry, and fish to include in your sensible eating plan.

To quickly locate foods in the grocery store that can help you reduce your intake of saturated and trans fat as well as cholesterol, look for the American Heart Association heart-check mark. Foods that carry the mark are low in total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and are limited in trans fat. Build your free, heart-healthy grocery shopping list at heartcheckmark.org.

It’s now easier than ever to shop for heart-healthy foods. The American Heart Association’s online grocery list builder has advanced. No more worrying about forgetting your list at home or work. Now you can save your grocery list and access it from your Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA.

Start by building your free, heart-healthy grocery list at heartcheckmark.org. Click “My Grocery List” to choose from hundreds of foods certified by the American Heart Association. Add household necessities in the “My Items” category, and enter your e-mail address to save your list for future use. The result is an organized, easy-to-use grocery list sorted by category, such as breads, dairy case, meats, snacks, and more.

Go to mylist.heartcheckmark.org from your Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA, and enter your e-mail address to access your saved grocery list any time you need it. It’s sure to make your next trip to the grocery store quick and efficient.

Shop smart!

Live well!

Look for the heart-check mark!

All products bearing the heart-check mark meet the American Heart Association’s nutrition criteria per standard serving size to be:

• Low in fat (3 grams or less)

• Low in saturated fat (1 gram or less)

• Limited in trans fat (less than .5 grams)

• Low in cholesterol (20 milligrams or less)

• Moderate in sodium, with 480 milligrams or less for individual foods and

• Contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one or more of these naturally occurring nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, or dietary fiber


Seafood, game meat, meat, and poultry, as well as whole-grain products, main dishes, and meals must meet additional nutritional requirements.

courtesy of American Heart Association

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