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Try a Heart Healthy Diet This February

January 25, 2021

February is heart health month. But what does it mean to be heart healthy? It actually means many different things, such as eating healthy, being active, getting good sleep, and it’s also about preventing heart disease.


Quick Facts About Heart Disease

  • It’s the leading cause of death in the United States. One in four people dies from heart disease. 1
  • Your risk for heart disease increases with unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, not being physically active, or drinking too much alcohol. 1
  • Your risk is higher if you have certain conditions and diseases, such as diabetes or obesity.1

Try a Heart Healthy Diet This February

The good news is that it’s never too late to support your heart health. Use February as a month to exercise more and to eat better. Check out these easy and heart-healthy diets:


The Dash diet is simple. It’s about portion size and eating a variety of foods that offer the right amount of nutrients. It’s great for detox and great for the heart because it can lower blood pressure and help with inflammation. Check out DASH diet recipes and keep the following in mind:

  • Fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and less protein that comes from animals are key to the DASH diet.
  • Keep your sodium under 2,000 mg per day. Lower sodium levels help prevent heart disease.

Mediterranean Diet

Heart disease is more common in the United States than it is in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean diet is more than a diet; it’s a heart-healthy eating plan.

Takeaways about the Mediterranean diet:

  • It’s high in leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, lean meats, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Dairy is not a focus.
  • Limit how much wine you drink and cook with.
  • Keep your sodium low.

The Mediterranean diet is also known to prevent heart attack, stroke, and high cholesterol. Which means you may live longer if you follow the Mediterranean diet.2,4 Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to get started on the Mediterranean Diet.

Vegetarian Diet

Research proves that a vegetarian diet that focuses on soy products, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease. It also can prevent high blood pressure, improve vascular health, detox the body, and reduce inflammation.

A vegetarian diet doesn’t include meat, poultry, or seafood, and it encourages less processed foods. It’s also low in sodium. Soy products, beans and legumes, and whole grains can help increase good cholesterol, called HDL cholesterol. A bonus: these foods also can help with weight loss.2,5


1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention
2. Pallazola VA, Davis DM, Whelton SP, et al. A Clinician’s Guide to Healthy Eating for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2019;3(3):251–267. Published 2019 Aug 1. doi:10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.05.001
3. Fung TT, Chiuve SE, McCullough ML, Rexrode KM, Logroscino G, Hu FB. Adherence to a DASH-Style Diet and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Women. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(7):713–720. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.7.713
4. Tektonidis, T. G., Åkesson, A., Gigante, B., Wolk, A., & Larsson, S. C. (2015). A Mediterranean diet and risk of myocardial infarction, heart failure and stroke: A population-based cohort study. Atherosclerosis, 243(1), 93–98. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2015.08.039
5. Kahleova, Hana, et al. “Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Disease.” Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, vol. 61, no. 1, 2018, pp. 54–61., doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2018.05.002

About the Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Center

Start your heart healthy February today and call the Duke Lifestyle & Weight Management Center to find out about the support we can provide for you.

How We Can Help You

If you want to lose weight and have struggled to do so on your own, we can help. Our experts help people to lose weight for many reasons such as:

  • Your weight increases your risk for a medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
  • You want to lose weight to improve one of these conditions or others like sleep apnea or osteoarthritis.
  • You do not qualify for weight loss surgery.
  • You might be interested in weight loss surgery but are not ready to take that step.
  • You had weight loss surgery and are now struggling to maintain the weight loss.
  • You want to move more easily, feel more vibrant, or look better.

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