Poor nutrition is an important risk factor in the development of coronary artery disease. Your diet should be modified to control weight, blood sugar and cholesterol.

The USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid makes it easy to choose a balanced diet from the five major food groups. The base of the pyramid contains the largest portion of food in the form of grains: bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Add the recommended number of servings from the fruit, vegetable, milk, and meat groups for a balanced diet. It is important to eat a variety of food from each group. The chart shows examples of serving sizes. Please note! This is a general guide for people without dietary restrictions and may be modified by your physician or dietitian.

USDA Food Guide Pyramid


Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group
1 Slice Bread
3 to 4 small crackers
1 oz. of ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta/
Vegetable Group
1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
3/4 cup of vegetable juice
1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw/
Fruit Group
1 medium apple, banana, orange
3/4 cup of fruit juice
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group
1+1/2 ounces of natural cheese
2 ounces of process cheese
1 cup of milk or yogurt
Meat. Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group
2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1 egg, 1/3 cup nuts, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count as 1 ounce of lean meat


Fat is an essential nutrient used by the body for many functions including energy, thermal insulation, vital organ protection, cell structure and function. It is recommended that less than 30% of food calories come from dietary fats. Below are some explanations of the different categories of fat and cholesterol. It is important to make smart choices based on these explanations.

Cholesterol: A waxy, fat related compound in the body tissues and organs of man and animal, cholesterol plays a vital role in metabolism. However, cholesterol is a key part in the creation of fatty deposits in the arterial walls and an increased blood cholesterol is a risk factor in coronary artery disease. Cholesterol is found only in foods of animal origin. It is recommended that the daily intake of dietary cholesterol be no more than 200 – 300 mg. per day.

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL): A type of cholesterol carrier which deposits cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL): A type of cholesterol carrier which helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Saturated Fat: Fat that is usually solid or semi-solid at room temperature and can be found in animal as well as vegetable sources. A diet high in saturated fat frequently increases blood cholesterol and LDL.

Polyunsaturated Fat: Fats primarily from vegetable sources which are generally liquid at room temperature. When used in moderation, they tend not to effect blood cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated Fat: Fats which help to lower blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated fat in the diet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fats found in fish sources which help to lower LDL cholesterol.


Protein is essential for good health. But many protein-rich foods are animal products which are also high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Fatty cuts of “red” meat, and organ meats are the worst offenders. In order to obtain the best protein with the least amount of fat and cholesterol, eat more fresh water fish, legumes (dried peas, beans, and grains), and skinless poultry. When you do eat meat, trim all visible fat before cooking and limit the portion size to three ounces/day (the size of a pack of cards).

Skim milk, yogurt, and skim milk cheeses are the best dairy choices. When buying cheese (which is traditionally high in saturated fat), look for low fat varieties such as farmer’s cheese, pot cheese, uncreamed cottage cheese, or part-skim ricotta.

Whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are your best choices. When buying baked products, such as muffins, read labels carefully. Many obtain half their calories from saturated fats such as palm and coconut oil.

With few exceptions, fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in saturated fat. Palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, and hydrogenated vegetable oils are highly saturated.

When you must use fats, use poly or monounsaturated vegetable oils.


corn oil canola oil lard/
safflower oil peanuts butter
sunflower oil peanut oil egg yolk
soybean oil olives whole milk
tub margarine olive oil cream
pumpkin seed avocado meats
sunflower seed cashews/pecans organ meats
walnuts filberts palm
almonds coconut oil


Frequently, cardiac patients are on a restricted sodium or salt diet. This is intended to minimize fluid retention and so reduce the workload of the heart. In general, a low salt diet should be one that contains 2000mg.. or less of sodium per day. All the sodium you need can be found naturally in balanced meals excluding the use of preprocessed foods or adding salt at the table.

It is important as you embark on your heart healthy dietary regimen to get accustomed to reading food labels. The government requires that all packaged food be labeled including serving size and nutrition consult. Sodium occurs in all foods, and you will likely be surprised once you begin checking labels.

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