February is American Heart Month, so all month long, we will give you tips on how to have a healthy heart. Let’s look at the types of food we need and what is considered a healthy serving size.  

OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute studies suggest we: 

Fill half our plate with non-starchy vegetables, like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cabbage, and fresh fruit. Eating more vegetables than fruit is better because some fruits are high in sugar. Dried fruits and fruit juices can also be high in sugar. 

A quarter of our plate should be protein, such as fish, skinless poultry, beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu. Eat less red meat and cheese, and avoid processed meats such as cold cuts and bacon. Not only do all these meats have preservatives, but they also tend to be high in salt, raising your blood pressure and affecting your heart. 

The remaining quarter of our plate should be whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, barley, quinoa, oats, whole-wheat bread, or other healthy starches, including sweet potatoes, acorn squash, beans, or lentils. Limit white bread, white rice, and fried potatoes. 

Though olive and canola oils are considered healthy, they still should be used in small amounts. Nuts, seeds, and avocados also contain healthy fats. Avoid butter, lard, tropical oils (coconut, palm), and stick margarine. 

One to three servings of non-fat (skim) milk or yogurt daily or non-dairy alternatives such as soy, rice, or almond milk are also good choices. Ensure your yogurt has less than 15 grams of sugar per serving (1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams). 

Last, drink mostly water or calorie-free beverages, such as unsweetened coffee or tea, and avoid sodas and other sugary drinks. 

Happy Healthy Heart Month! 

Disclaimer: This is not a diet; neither should it replace the instructions to manage your specific medical condition given by your doctor or registered dietician.