When you're eating to protect your ticker, researchers have realized that it isn't about clearing your fridge of all fat, but rather focusing on the right type. "Choosing foods with omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol even more than limiting the cholesterol you eat," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University.
That's why this healthy eating plan is packed with foods that deliver plenty of healthy fats. It also follows the American Heart Association guidelines to fill your total calories with 30% fat (less than 7% coming from saturated sources) and no more than 300mg of cholesterol or 1,500mg of sodium.
Each day, pick a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then round it out with three snacks (two if you're trying to lose weight). For items with a *, feel free to swap in any fruit, vegetable, whole grain, or protein found on the Swap It! list to keep your taste buds interested.
Breakfast: 300 calories
1. Breakfast burrito: 3 scrambled egg whites + ½ cup diced tomato* + ¼ diced yellow bell pepper + 1 Tbsp chopped sweet onion + ¼ cup no-salt-added canned black beans + 1 Tbsp salsa, wrapped in an 8" whole-wheat tortilla
2. Peanut butter—pear toast: 1 slice whole-wheat bread + 2 Tbsp unsalted peanut butter + ½ sliced pear*
3. Orange-apricot quinoa: ¼ cup quinoa* cooked in ¼ cup calcium-fortified orange juice + ¼ cup water; stir in 4 chopped dried apricot halves + 1 Tbsp sliced almonds
4. Egg plate: 1 egg scrambled in 1 tsp olive oil + 1 slice veggie bacon + ½ grapefruit* + 1 whole-wheat English muffin
5. Whole-grain cereal crunch: 1 cup bran flakes (such as Kellogg's or Post) + 1 Tbsp pecans + 2 Tbsp dried cranberries* + 1 cup nonfat milk (or soy milk)
6. Sweet breakfast toast: ¼ cup nonfat ricotta mixed with 1 tsp honey, spread on 1 whole-wheat English muffin, topped with ½ cup sliced grapes* and 2 Tbsp chopped pecans
7. Apple-almond pancakes: 1 frozen whole-grain pancake topped with 1 Tbsp almond butter + ½ sliced apple + 1 tsp honey. Serve with 1 cup nonfat milk (or soy milk).
8. Nutty berry parfait: 6-oz container nonfat plain Greek yogurt + 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries* + 2 Tbsp lowfat granola + 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
9. Tropical breakfast smoothie: Blend ½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt with ½ cup calcium-fortified orange juice + 1 medium banana + 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks + ½ cup crushed ice
10. Egg white tostada: Cook 3 egg whites in nonfat cooking spray; place on a 6" corn tortilla that has been warmed in the oven; top with ¼ sliced avocado + ½ cup chopped tomato* + 1 sliced scallion + ½ cup no-salt-added canned pinto beans*
11. Raisin spice breakfast sundae: Whisk 1 tsp honey + dash each nutmeg and cinnamon into 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt; top with 2 Tbsp raisins* + 2 Tbsp chopped pecans
12. Strawberry ricotta waffles: Top 1 toasted whole-grain frozen waffle with ½ cup nonfat ricotta cheese + 1 cup sliced strawberries* + 1 Tbsp maple syrup
13. Spinach-feta omelet: Cook 6 egg whites in 2 tsp olive oil; stir in 1 cup chopped spinach + 1 tsp crumbled feta cheese. Serve with 1 medium orange*.
14. Overnight oatmeal: Combine ½ cup plain instant oatmeal* + 1¼ cups nonfat milk (or soy milk) + 1 Tbsp flaxseeds + 1 Tbsp chopped tart dried cherries + 1 pinch cinnamon; cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or warmed in the microwave.
Lunch: 400 calories
15. Open-faced roasted vegetable sandwich: Top 2 pieces whole-wheat bread with 1 cup sliced zucchini or eggplant, brushed with 1 tsp olive oil and roasted in a 450°F oven for 15 minutes; top with 1 slice reduced-fat provolone + 3 fresh basil leaves. Serve with 1 apple*.
16. Curried chickpea pita: Stuff a 6" whole-wheat pita pocket with ½ cup no-salt-added canned chickpeas* + 1 Tbsp raisins + ¼ cup grated carrots + 2 tsp lime juice + 1 tsp olive oil + ¼ tsp curry powder; top with ¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
17. Chicken-avocado quesadilla: Two 6" corn tortillas + ⅓ cup shredded precooked chicken breast + ¼ cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar + ¼ sliced avocado, cooked in nonfat cooking spray. Serve with 15 grapes*.
18. Mexican couscous: ¼ cup whole-wheat couscous* cooked in ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth + 1 pinch cumin + 1 Tbsp lime juice + 1 tsp olive oil; toss with ½ cup thawed frozen corn* + ½ cup no-salt-added canned black beans* + ½ cup chopped tomato*
19. Chicken Parm: 3 oz precooked chicken breast + 3 slices tomato + 1 slice reduced-fat mozzarella + 1 tsp balsamic vinegar on a roll. Serve with ½ pear*.
20. Tuna salad: 3 oz canned water-packed tuna* + 1 chopped apple* + 2 Tbsp diced celery + 2 Tbsp dried cranberries* + 2 cups spinach*; toss with 2 tsp honey mustard whisked with 1 tsp olive oil
21. Salmon sandwich: Drizzle 3 oz canned salmon with 2 tsp pesto; place on 1 whole-wheat deli flat + 2 slices tomato + ¼ cup arugula. Serve with ¼ cup no-salt-added canned garbanzo beans* + 1 cup cherry tomatoes.
22. Quinoa salad: ¼ cup quinoa* cooked in ½ cup water; toss with ½ cup chopped cucumber* + ½ cup diced tomato* + ½ cup no-salt-added canned cannellini beans + 1 Tbsp lemon juice + 1 Tbsp olive oil + 2 Tbsp fresh parsley
23. Strawberry-banana wrap: 8" whole-wheat tortilla spread with 2 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 Tbsp strawberry all-fruit spread (like Smucker's); top with ½ sliced banana* and fold into a wrap
24. Healthy chef's salad: 2 cups romaine lettuce* + 2 oz sliced turkey breast + 1 hard-boiled egg white + 5 grape tomatoes + ⅓ diced avocado + 2 slices red onion; toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil + 2 tsp red wine vinegar. Serve with 2 tangerines.
25. Brown rice-edamame salad: ¼ cup cooked brown rice* + ½ cup edamame* + ½ cup grated carrots* + 1 sliced scallion + 1 tsp peanut oil + 2 tsp rice wine vinegar + 2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce + 1 Tbsp crushed peanuts
26. Turkey burger and Asian cucumber salad: 4 oz turkey burger* + 2 tsp light olive oil mayonnaise whisked with a dash of hot sauce + 2 slices tomato + ¼ cup baby spinach on a whole-wheat hamburger bun. Serve with salad (1 sliced cucumber + 1 tsp canola oil + 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar) and 1 apple*.
27. Barley-stuffed pepper: Cook ¼ cup barley* in ¾ cup water; toss with 1 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese + 2 Tbsp chopped sweet onion sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil + ⅓ cup cooked corn; stuff into 1 hollowed-out red bell pepper. Serve with 1 banana*.
Dinner: 500 Calories
28. Ginger pork stir-fry: Stir-fry 4 oz pork tenderloin* + 2 cups broccoli* + ½ tsp minced garlic + ½ tsp minced ginger in 2 tsp peanut oil; season with 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce and top with 1 Tbsp chopped cashews; serve over ¼ cup cooked brown rice*.
29. Portobello stroganoff: 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil, cooked in 2 tsp tomato paste + ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth + 2 Tbsp nonfat sour cream; serve over 2 oz cooked whole-wheat egg noodles. Serve with 1 cup no-salt-added canned black bean soup.
30. Steak salad: 2 cups baby spinach* + 3 oz grilled sirloin steak* + 15 grapes* + ½ cup sliced yellow peppers* + 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts; toss with 2 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp red wine vinegar. Serve with 1 whole-wheat roll.
31. Chicken fajitas: 4 oz skinless chicken breast* seasoned with ¼ tsp cumin + ¼ tsp chili powder, panfried in 1 tsp olive oil; serve in an 8" whole-wheat tortilla with ¼ sliced avocado + ½ cup grapefruit sections + 1 Tbsp chopped red onion. Serve with ½ cup no-salt-added canned kidney beans*.
32. Pasta pesto toss: 2 oz cooked whole-wheat penne* tossed with ½ cup no-salt-added canned cannellini beans* + 1 cup cooked green beans + 2 Tbsp pesto sauce + ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
33. Whole-wheat pasta with turkey meat sauce: Sauté 4 oz ground turkey breast* in 1 tsp olive oil with ½ clove garlic; add 1 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce + ½ tsp Italian seasoning and heat for 10 minutes; serve over 2 oz cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
34. Honey-mustard salmon: 4 oz salmon fillet* topped with 1 Tbsp honey mustard mixed with 1 tsp olive oil and broiled for 6 to 8 minutes; serve over ¼ cup whole-wheat couscous*, cooked and tossed with ½ cup chopped tomato* + 1 Tbsp pine nuts
35. Crispy chicken with sweet potatoes: 4 oz skinless chicken breast* dipped in 1 egg white and then in ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs, roasted in a 400°F oven for 25 minutes. Serve with 1 medium sweet potato + 2 cups spinach* sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil.
36. Pork with pears: 4 oz roasted pork tenderloin* topped with 1 diced pear + 1 stalk chopped celery, sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Serve with 1 medium baked potato + 2 Tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt.
37. Steak and potatoes: 3 oz grilled sirloin steak + 6 oz baked sweet potato + 2 cups spinach sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil with 1 clove chopped garlic and ½ cup no-salt-added cannellini beans
38. Mediterranean chicken salad: 4 oz precooked chicken breast* + 1 sliced medium tomato + 2 slices onion + ½ sliced cucumber* + 3 Kalamata olives, drizzled with 2 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp red wine vinegar. Serve with ¼ cup cooked brown rice*.
39. Greek quinoa with shrimp: ¼ cup quinoa* cooked in ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth + 1 tsp olive oil; toss with 8 grilled shrimp* + 1 Tbsp pine nuts + ½ cup cooked asparagus* + 1 Tbsp crumbled feta + 1 cup cooked peas
Snacks: 150 Calories
40. ½ cup no-salt-added canned chickpeas* sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkled with ¼ tsp curry powder and baked in a 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes
41. ¾ cup edamame
42. ¼ cup guacamole + 1 cup sliced red and yellow peppers
43. ¼ cup hummus + ½ sliced cucumber
44. 2 gingersnaps + 1 Tbsp peanut butter
45. Two 6" corn tortillas sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkled with ½ tsp cinnamon-sugar and baked in a 350°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes
46. ⅓ cup nonfat ricotta cheese + 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs + 10 small whole-wheat crackers
47. 14 walnut halves
48. 7 Hershey dark chocolate kisses
49. 6 oz red wine
50. 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt + 2 tsp honey + 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1/ cup raspberries
1 medium apple, orange, or peach
1 small banana or pear
1 cup berries
Arugula, romain lettuce, spinach, or kale
Beets, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts
Carrots, cauliflower, or cucumber
¼ cup barley, whole-wheat couscous, quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice
½ cup oats
2 oz whole-wheat pasta
4 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, ground chicken, ground turkey breast, finned fish (tuna, tilapia, sole), pork tenderloin, or tofu
3 oz lean sirloin steak or water-packed tuna
½ cup no-salt-added canned beans or edamame
8 large shrimp
1 veggie burger
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