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Build a Heart-Healthy Pantry

Do you know how to make heart-healthy selections from the grocery store? Heart-healthy eating focuses on eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also means incorporating leaner cuts of red meat and low-fat dairy products to decrease the intake of fat and cholesterol. Making a few simple changes to your diet can help improve your heart's health today and lower your chances of developing heart problems later in life. Listed below are some common foods that may be found in your pantry, and heart-healthy alternatives.

Whole Grains
Whole grain foods contain essential vitamins and minerals. They give your body the carbohydrate fuel it needs for energy. Whole grains contain more dietary fiber and protective components that positively impact overall health. These benefits are generally not found in refined grain products like white bread and white flour.

Doughnuts and muffins
Pasta and white bread
White rice
White flour
Cakes and pies
High-fat snack crackers and cookies, which may contain tran-fatty acids

Whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread
Brown rice
Whole-wheat flour
High-fiber cereals (5+ grams of fiber per serving)
Popcorn (light on the butter)

Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and supply vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidation.  Fruits and vegetables can help fill your tummy with fewer calories because they contain large amounts of water and little fat.  Nutritious and filling foods can help you better manage your caloric intake.

Most dairy products, meats, and eggs are good sources of protein. Many are also high in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol so be careful what you choose. 

Full-fat (“whole”) milk and other dairy products
Egg yolks
Fatty red meats and dark poultry meat
Organ meats, such as liver

Skim or low-fat (1%) milk
Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt                                                             
Egg whites or egg substitutes
Skinless, white meat poultry
Lean fish

Fats and Oils
Fats and oils should be consumed in moderation. When using fats, select oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil.


Partially-hydrogenated margarine or shortening
Coconut, palm, and kernel oils

Olive oil
Canola oil
Soft margarine with 0 trans-fat made from liquid oil instead of solid fat