The foods you eat can help your heart stay healthy and strong as you age. Here are three simple tips for making heart- healthy choices at the table, in the kitchen, and when you shop.

Eat less saturated fat

  • Avoid fatty meats, burgers, creamy sauces, and gravy. Choose foods that have healthier unsaturated fats—like fish, lean poultry, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil.

  • Replace high-fat dairy with fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

  • Choose light instead of full-fat mayonnaise or other spreads.

  • Use vegetable oil (olive, canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower) instead of butter for cooking and oil-based salad dressings, like balsamic vinaigrette or Italian, instead of creamy dressings like ranch or Caesar. Avoid coconut and palm oils, which are high in saturated fat.

Cut down on sodium (salt)

  • Read the nutrition facts label on packaged meals, snacks, and canned foods; choose products lower in sodium and foods labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added.”

  • Snack on fresh fruit and unsalted nuts, seeds, and nut butters, which are also rich in protein.

  • All types of salt contain sodium. Delicious and healthy alternatives include fresh herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning blends; chopped garlic, onions, and peppers; ginger; and lemon and lime juice.

Eat more fiber

  • Fiber is good for your heart as well as your gut. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are delicious ways to add fiber and other important nutrients to your diet. Beans, peas, and lentils can also provide heart-healthy protein.

  • Look for products that say “100% whole grain,” making sure that whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first in the ingredient list. You might try whole-grain bread, bagels, and tortillas; whole-grain hot or cold breakfast cereals with no added sugar; brown or wild rice, quinoa, or oats; and whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and couscous.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services