Heart healthy weight loss


22 Heart Healthy Foods to Fuel Your Cardiac Diet

Photo: Paula Daniëlse/Getty

What is a Cardiac Diet?

“Cardiac diet” is an unofficial term for a heart healthy diet. This is a plan to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods—fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean poultry and fish. And it also means avoiding saturated fats, trans fats, and excess sodium and sugar.

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“Following a heart healthy—or cardiac—diet would be recommended to someone who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other history of heart disease, or to someone who has a family history of heart disease,” explains Lauren Kelly, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Kelly Wellness in New York City.

But even if you don’t have a cardiovascular health concern, sticking to a cardiac diet is important, since it can reduce risk of heart disease in the future, says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

In fact, this is the way we all should be eating. By limiting junk foods and adding more nutritious ones, you’ll be fueling your body with what it needs to stay healthy and possibly improve your overall health.

“Following a cardiac diet can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels,” says Kelly. “It can even boost your energy because of your healthier food choices.” Results vary from person to person, explains Dr. Lichtenstein, since they depend on a variety of factors, including what you were eating before you went on a cardiac diet, your lifestyle choices (exercise and smoking) and other risk factors.

Heart Healthy Foods

When you’re following a cardiac diet, it’s important to eat plenty of heart healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables and are undoubtedly healthful foods. They boost your immune system, providing the nutrients your body needs and help reduce inflammation. Plus, the more fruits and veggies you eat, the less junk you’re liable to eat. At mealtime, American Heart Association recommends filling half your plate with veggies and/or fruits.

The good news is that every vegetable and fruit is good for you, as long as you’re eating them without added salts and sugars. The more colors of the rainbow you consume, the greater variety of nutrients you’re getting.

“Vary your vegetables each day and try to pick more of the non-starchy options ,” says Kelly. “I find that often the white or beige vegetables are forgotten about and viewed as not as nutritious, but these foods, such as onion, cauliflower, and mushrooms, are incredibly healthy.” She also recommends:

Image zoom Credit: Kyoko Hasegawa Photography/Getty

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Bok choy
  5. Tomato
  6. Arugula
  7. Bell peppers
  8. Carrots
  9. Asparagus

Soluble Fiber

You probably think of fiber as good for digestion, but it’s also an important component of a heart healthy diet. “One of the most important nutrients for heart health is soluble fiber,” explains Kelly. “Eating soluble fiber can help lower your cholesterol level and better manage blood sugar levels.” Aim for about 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber per day; you can find it in:

  1. Oats
  2. Beans
  3. Berries
  4. Ground flaxseed

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish and in some nuts and seeds. These good fats can reduce blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels, slow the growth of plaque in the arteries and reduce the risk of arrhythmias. Your doctor may prescribe an Omega-3 supplement if you’re on a heart patient diet but you should also be eating Omega-3-rich foods such as:

  1. Salmon
  2. Tuna
  3. Herring
  4. Sardines
  5. Walnuts
  6. Ground flaxseed
  7. Hemp Seeds
  8. Chia seeds

Have High Cholesterol? Foods to Avoid

If you have high blood cholesterol or another cardiovascular health concern, there are certain foods you’ll want to avoid to keep your heart healthy.

One common misconception is that all high cholesterol foods should be avoided completely. “Cholesterol from your diet actually doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol levels like it was once thought,” says Christy Shatlock, MS, registered dietitian at bistroMD. “However, you do have to be careful because oftentimes foods high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat, which needs to be limited on a heart healthy diet.” In other words, don’t indulge in bacon and whole milk. But go ahead and eat eggs, salmon and shrimp even though they have cholesterol, since they’re not high in saturated fat.

Instead of focusing on high cholesterol foods while on a cardiac diet, avoid trans fats and saturated fats and foods high in salt and sugar.

Image zoom Photo: Peter Dazeley

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats

“Overall, we are more concerned about trans fats raising our blood cholesterol ,” explains Kelly. “It’s recommended you consume zero of this type of fat because it has been so strongly linked with heart disease.”

She explains that while trans fats have been ‘banned’ from processed foods, they’re still present in some foods in small quantities. For example, a jar of peanut butter could say it has 0 grams of trans fat but really contain about 0.4 grams per serving. Several foods with “just a little” trans fat can add up to too much trans fat. So check the label and make sure the foods you’re eating don’t contain “partially hydrogenated oils.” This can include:

  1. Peanut butter
  2. Packaged cookies
  3. Packaged cakes
  4. Donuts and muffins

For a hearty healthy diet, avoid trans fat. This means choosing baked or roasted foods over fried ones. Also eat red meat about once or twice a week (or less), and select lean cuts, such as sirloin or filet mignon. Steer clear of:

  1. Fatty cuts of read meat (porterhouse, rib eye, prime rib)
  2. Any fried food

Saturated fats mostly come from meat and dairy products. Avoiding foods high in saturated fat—and choosing healthier options—can lower your cholesterol level and boost your lipid profile. Fatty beef is an example of a food with saturated fat. Also on the list is:

  1. Pork
  2. Lamb
  3. Poultry with skin
  4. Butter
  5. Cheese and other whole or reduced-fat dairy products
  6. Whole fat dairy

Image zoom Photo: Brian Woodcock


Too much salt in your diet is bad for your cardiovascular health. That’s because extra sodium increases blood volume in your blood vessels, raising blood pressure and making your heart work harder to pump it.

Eat 1,500 milligrams or less of sodium per day to keep blood pressure low. Your first step is keeping the saltshaker off the table. “Instead, use herbs and spices or a salt-substitute such as Mrs. Dash,” suggests Kelly. Read the label on any pre-made spice mixtures, since often the first ingredient is salt, and you want to stay away from that.” Also be careful of hidden salt in the foods you’re eating. Anything over 140 mg of sodium per serving is a no-no. And surprisingly, these foods may be high in sodium:

  1. Cereal
  2. Condiments
  3. Sauces
  4. Sweets (like cookies and cakes)


Sorry if you’ve got a sweet tooth—researchers say eating too much sugar is connected to a higher risk of dying from heart disease. Sadly, most of us eat too much. The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, the American Heart Association recommends women eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day (a.k.a. 24 grams or 100 calories) and men eat no more than 9 teaspoons a day (a.k.a. 36 grams or 150 calories).

To significantly reduce your sugar intake, avoid foods with added sugar, such as:

  1. Soft drinks
  2. Fruit drinks
  3. Candy
  4. Cakes, cookies and pies
  5. Ice cream
  6. Sweetened yogurt and milk
  7. Sweet breads and waffles

“Look out for secret sources of sugar like breads, cereals, yogurts, condiments and sauces,” says Kelly. “Choose foods with less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.”

Image zoom Credit: Xsandra/Getty

Creating a Heart Healthy Diet Plan

As you work with your doctor and/or nutritionist to create a heart healthy diet plan, you’ll learn ways to stick to the plan and create delicious meals you and your family can enjoy.

Dr. Lichtenstein recommends not only stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy foods but your freezer too. That’s because many fruits and vegetables spoil quickly. Raw lean meat may only be usable for a few days in the fridge. But frozen items can last for month. If you always have some foods that fit your cardiac diet in the freezer, you’ll be able to easily whip something up, even when you’re in a rush.

Breakfast Ideas

At breakfast, beware of the hidden sugars in many cereals and juices, and look for ways to incorporate lean protein, fiber and Omega-3s into your morning meal. Kelly suggests:

Healthy Omelet: 1 egg + 2 egg whites with ¼ to ½ an avocado and veggies with a few tbsp. hummus or ½ cup baked sweet potato

Tofu Scramble: Tofu (or egg) scramble with tomato, spinach, black beans, garlic a few slices of avocado with 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread

Loaded Oatmeal: 1 cup cooked rolled gluten-free oats with cinnamon; mix in 1 tbsp almond butter and top with few chopped walnuts, ½ sliced small banana

Protein-Packed Rice Cake: Brown rice cake with 1-2 tbsp low sodium peanut or almond butter (with no “partially hydrogenated oils”) with 1 small sliced banana

Check out more heart-healthy recipes.

Image zoom Photo: Jennifer Causey

Lunch Ideas

Many typical lunch foods—cold cuts, cured meats, pizza and soup—are high in sodium, so keep that in mind. You probably want to pack your own. These are a few delicious lunch ideas you’ll want to whip up:

Chicken Avocado Sandwich: 100% whole wheat bread with baked chicken, few slice of avocado, lettuce, tomato with side salad of veggies (i.e. beets, onion, carrots) and chickpeas or black beans with olive oil and vinegar

Homemade Rice or Quinoa Bowl: 1/2 to 2/3 cup brown rice or quinoa, ½ cup black beans or pinto beans, 1-2 cup of veggies (i.e. spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans), topped with baked chicken, fish or tofu

Turkey Burger: Make a burger from ground lean turkey with scallion and red pepper and top with few slices of avocado (or 1 slice Swiss cheese), served in low sodium brown rice tortilla or steamed collard greens

Avocado Tuna Salad: Tuna salad made with ½ mashed avocado with sliced grapes and few chopped walnuts, lettuce and slice of tomato on 1 slice of whole grain bread or on bed of greens

Low Sodium Bean Soup or Chili: Low sodium chili or bean based soup, topped with few slices of avocado. “If this is your entire meal, can aim for less than or equal to 500 to 550 milligrams sodium for the soup.

Dinner Ideas

The way you prepare your dinner will help you stick to your heart-healthy diet. Select lean cuts of meat and trim fat (and remove poultry skin) before cooking. Broil meat instead of pan-frying it, and drain fat from foods before eating them.

You can also make some smart substitutions, such as using low-fat or fat-free cheese and milk, and cooking with liquid vegetable oil (olive, sunflower, canola) instead of solid fats, such as butter, lard and shortening.

Here are a few dinner ideas that are both tasty and cardiac-diet friendly:

Baked Chicken or Fish: Bake it with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or try avocado oil) and a few tablespoons of salsa; serve it with cooked vegetables (i.e. broccoli, asparagus, spinach) and whole grain starch (i.e. ½ cup cooked brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or bean-based pasta)

“Breaded” Baked Salmon: Coat salmon with olive oil, whole wheat bread crumbs, mustard and lemon; serve it with side of vegetable (i.e. broccoli, sautéed spinach with garlic) and a whole grain starch (i.e. sweet potato, quinoa)

Turkey Meatballs: Make your meatballs with one pound lean ground turkey, ½ cup quick oats, 1 egg, ½ tsp dried oregano and little pepper. When they’re done cooking, drizzle them with olive oil

Feta Chicken: Bake chicken, and serve it with a side of ½ cup baked butternut squash, ½ cup sautéed broccoli and ½ cup quinoa mixed together. Top with sprinkle of feta cheese

We’ve got even more recipes for heart healthy entrées, heart-healthy seafood recipes and heart-healthy vegetarian recipes.

Image zoom Photo: Colin Price

Snack Ideas

At snack time, skip the salty chips and crackers and instead go for low-salt options with plenty of fiber and protein to tide you over until your next meal.

These are a few ideas Kelly loves:

  • 1 hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
  • Hummus with cut up fresh (or roasted) vegetables (i.e. carrots, peppers, broccoli)
  • Slice of 100% whole wheat bread with almond or peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Slice of 100% whole grain bread with ½ mashed avocado, topped with 1-2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Plain Greek yogurt with 1 tbsp peanut/almond butter mixed in or topped with 10-15 nuts, ½ cup berries; can also add in 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, hemp seed or chia seed

And yes, you can occasionally indulge in dessert. Here are some heart-healthy dessert recipes we highly recommend.

Remember: a change in your diet might tough at first but it truly can change your health—and your life—for the better. And with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of sticking to your cardiac diet and enjoying your food.

“There’s so much flexibility with a heart healthy diet, so it can be customized to work for different people,” says Lichtenstein. After you recipes you enjoy and making them part of your meal plans, “it shouldn’t feel like a diet, it should just become your routine.”


Have diabetes or hypertension raised your risk of heart disease, or do you simply want to eat in a more heart-healthy way? A three-day meal plan can help. This 1,200 calorie-a-day plan can help most women lose weight, says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD. (Discover the six benefits of seeing a heart dietitian below.)

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Breakfast: 2 large eggs, 2 slices whole grain bread, 1 Tbsp. olive oil spread.

Lunch: 2 slices whole grain bread, 3 oz. tuna (canned in water), 1 slice low-fat mozzarella cheese, 1 Tbsp. olive oil mayo.

Dinner: 4 oz. grilled chicken, 1 medium Idaho baked potato, 1-1/2 cups green beans.

Snacks: 1 cup skim milk, 1 medium apple.

Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal, ½ cup blueberries, 1 Tbsp. peanut butter.

Lunch: 2 slices whole grain bread, 2 oz. low-sodium turkey, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 tsp. mustard; 1 cup skim milk.

Dinner: 4 oz. salmon, ½ cup brown rice, 1-1/2 cups broccoli, 2 tsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese.

Snacks: 6 oz. non-fat plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup strawberries.

Day 3

Breakfast: 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese, ½ cup fresh pineapple.

Lunch: 3 oz. grilled chicken, ¼ cup bell pepper, ¼ avocado, 2 Tbsp. salsa, ¼ cup shredded lettuce, 1 low-carb wrap; 1 medium peach.

Dinner: 3 turkey meatballs, ½ cup whole wheat pasta, 1/3 cup marinara sauce, 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese; 2 cups spring lettuce mix, 1 Tsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

Snacks: ¼ cup mixed nuts, 2 Tbsp. dried cranberries.

6 ways a heart dietitian will help you

When you have high blood pressure, diabetes or excess weight, your doctor may refer you to a heart dietitian.

“Our goal is to reduce your cardiac risk,” explains Ms. Zumpano. “We try to get you started and educate you so that you’re empowered to make ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ food choices.”

When you see a heart dietitian, you will learn how to:

1.Distinguish nutrient-dense foods from empty-calorie foods.

  • The Mediterranean diet is loaded with nutrient-dense foods, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and/or healthy fat: fresh produce; nuts, seeds and olive oil; beans and whole grains; and lean proteins.
  • The typical American diet contains too many high-calorie foods devoid of nutrients: soda, chips, crackers, cookies and candy bars. They add to your weight, and raise your blood sugar and bad LDL cholesterol levels.

2. Choose healthy versus unhealthy fats.

  • Healthy (unsaturated) fats don’t turn solid at room temperature, and include plant oils, nuts, olives, avocado and fatty fish.
  • Saturated fats turn solid at room temperature. “While there’s room for some saturated fat in our diets, we want to limit meat and keep solid animal fat, like chicken skin, marbled cuts and bacon, to a minimum,” she says.
  • Start replacing red meat with poultry or fish, and full-fat dairy with plant-based options like olive oil and nuts. Try making one meatless meal per week using beans or legumes.
  • Manmade fats (trans fat/partially hydrogenated oils), also solid at room temperature, have been banned by the FDA. “They increase bad cholesterol and usually cause weight gain and inflammation,” she notes.

3. Tell healthy carbs from unhealthy carbs.

  • High-fiber carbs (like whole grains and legumes) are always better than simple carbs, like sweets, snack foods, chips, and white bread, pasta or rice.
  • Every meal should include lots of veggies, and some fruit or whole grain. “Watch your grain portions,” cautions Ms. Zumpano. “I recommend three 15-gram servings of carbs per day — for example, ½ cup oatmeal, 1 slice of bread and ½ cup of brown rice.”
  • If you have diabetes and need to lose weight, limit your carbs to 2 to 3 grams per meal (for women) and 3 to 4 grams of carbs (for men). This will also keep your blood sugars stable.

4. Eat at home more often.

  • Restaurant meals are often high in salt and saturated fat. If you’re eating out five days a week, “we’ll troubleshoot why you’re doing this so often and try to find some quick, easy options that you can make at home instead,” says Ms. Zumpano.
  • Can’t give up eating at restaurants? Work on doing so four, or three, days a week instead. Avoid dishes that are fried, creamed, buttered or tempura, and opt for baked, boiled or broiled foods instead.

5. Get a handle on your snacking.

  • Snacks should have no more than 15 or 20 grams of carbohydrate. (One carb serving is 15 carbs, two is 30, etc.).
  • Include a protein and complex carb in each snack.
  • Choose healthy snacks that suit your taste buds (e.g., replace sweets with fruit and nuts, and salty chips with whole grain crackers and cheese).

6. Reduce the salt in your diet.

  • Always read food labels for sodium content, and if you have hypertension or prehypertension, limit yourself to 1,500 milligrams (about 2/3 teaspoon) of salt per day.
  • When eating out, avoid the American Heart Association’s “salty six” (foods that increase blood pressure): pizza, poultry, deli meats, canned soups, breads and sandwiches.

“We can show you how to make changes in the way you eat so that you can follow a heart-healthy diet and not even have to think about it,” says Ms. Zumpano.

7-Day Heart-Healthy Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to protect against heart disease. In fact, incorporating heart-healthy foods, exercising more, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can help reduce cardiovascular disease-related deaths by 50 percent. With this simple 1,200-calorie meal plan, you’ll protect your heart and lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week in the process.

Related: 15 Little Ways to Protect Your Heart

The meals and snacks in this diet plan feature heart-healthy foods recommended for a cardiac diet, like fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean protein and fats like olive oil and avocado (see our full list of top 15 heart-healthy foods to eat). Saturated fat, added sugars and sodium (nutrients that can harm your heart in large amounts) are kept to a minimum and instead, dishes are seasoned with lots of herbs and spices to keep things flavorful and exciting. With this simple meal plan, you’ll have healthy meals for the week at the ready!

Looking for a different calorie level? See this same meal plan at 1,500 and 2,000 calories.

Don’t Miss: Delicious Heart-Healthy Recipes

How to Meal Prep Your Week of Meals

  1. Meal prep the Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5. Store the salad in an air-tight container (To buy: amazon.com, $26 for 5) and the dressing separately in a small container (To buy: amazon.com, $12 for 8).

Day 1

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Breakfast (271 calories)

  • 1 serving Avocado Egg Toast

A.M. Snack (84 calories)

  • 1 cup blueberries

Lunch (374 calories)

  • 1 serving Loaded Black Bean Nacho Soup

P.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (457 calories)

  • 1 serving Seared Salmon with Green Peppercorn Sauce
  • 1 cup steamed green beans
  • 1 baked medium red potato, drizzled with 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. nonfat plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of pepper.

Daily Totals: 1,224 calories, 60 g protein, 142 g carbohydrates, 28 g fiber, 52 g fat, 11 g sat. fat., 828 mg sodium

Day 2

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Breakfast (265 calories)

  • 1 cup bran cereal
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 serving Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad
  • 1medium orange

Dinner (429 calories)

  • 1 serving Charred Shrimp & Pesto Buddha Bowls

Daily Totals: 1,225 calories, 75 g protein, 148 g carbohydrates, 39 g fiber, 50 g fat, 9 g sat. fat., 1,363 mg sodium

Day 3

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Breakfast (297 calories)

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 2 tsp. honey

A.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 serving Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad
  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (416 calories)

  • 1 serving Curried Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted

Daily Totals: 1,212 calories, 70 g protein, 132 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 51 g fat, 9 g sat. fat., 1,332 mg sodium

Day 5

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Breakfast (333 calories)

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, cooked in 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup raspberries

Cook oats and top with raspberries and a pinch of cinnamon.

A.M. Snack (102 calories)

  • 1 medium bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. hummus
  • 1 serving Spinach & Strawberry Meal-Prep Salad

P.M. Snack (84 calories)

  • 1 cup blueberries

Dinner (304 calories)

  • 1 1/4 cups Chicken Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

Daily Totals: 1,198 calories, 77 g protein, 120 g carbohydrates, 30 g fiber, 48 g fat, 9 g sat. fat., 1,405 mg sodium.

Day 6

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Breakfast (328 calories)

  • 1 cup bran cereal
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup blueberries

A.M. Snack (62 calories)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (296 calories)

  • 1 serving Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad

Meal-Prep Tip: Save a serving of the tuna salad to have for lunch on Day 7.

P.M. Snack (64 calories)

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 serving Toaster-Oven Tostada

Daily Totals: 1,206 calories, 55 g protein, 187 g carbohydrates, 55 g fiber, 39 g fat, 8 g sat. fat., 1,203 mg sodium.

Day 7

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Breakfast (355 calories)

  • 1 serving Avocado Egg Toast
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries

Lunch (366 calories)

  • 1 serving Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (374 calories)

  • 1 serving Skillet Lemon Chicken & Potatoes with Kale

Daily Totals: 1,220 calories, 64 g protein, 132 g carbohydrates, 32 g fiber, 51 g fat, 9 g sat. fat., 1,275 mg sodium.

Watch How to Make Skillet Lemon Chicken & Potatoes with Kale

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Heart-Healthy Diet Center

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of heart problems, you have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. You can lower your risk by making this small change: At each meal, choose foods that are good for your heart.

Most diets are based on foods you shouldn’t eat. Instead, take a positive approach and focus on foods that are good for you.

Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The fiber in these foods helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Put these on your plate with every meal to reach these daily amounts: At least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables and three 1-ounce servings of whole grains a day.

Eat more beans, legumes (like lentils), seeds, and nuts. Your weekly target: 4 servings of either nuts, seeds, or legumes such as black beans, garbanzos (also called chickpeas), or lentils.

Put healthier fats to work for you. Favor unsaturated fats, such as canola, olive, and peanut oils. These oils are less likely than butter or lard to clog your arteries.

Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, including albacore tuna, salmon, and sardines. Omega-3s seem to lower triglycerides, fight plaque in your arteries, lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of abnormal heart rhythms.

Eat lean protein. Make beans, nuts, fish, and chicken your mainstays, and keep portions in check. The American Heart Association suggests you eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week. Some cuts of meat have more fat than others, so look for leaner choices. If you’re craving some type of processed meat — bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, sausage, chicken nuggets, or jerky — limit those, too.

Feed your body regularly. When you skip a meal, you’re more likely to overeat later. For some people, eating 5 to 6 mini-meals works best to limit calories, help control blood sugars, and regulate metabolism. For others, 3 meals a day works better, since extra meals can trigger overeating. See which approach works for you.

Experiment with new flavors. Try using dried herbs and spices instead of salt, which can drive up your blood pressure. For chicken, try using rosemary, garlic, or sage. For fish, try dill or tarragon. Vinegars are another way to liven up ho-hum food.

Much has been made of the recently published results of the DIETFITS (Diet Intervention Examining the Factors Interacting with Treatment Success) study. Most of the headlines emphasized the fact that the two diets involved — low-fat and low-carb — ended up having the same results across almost all end points studied, from weight loss to lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.

What’s most interesting, however, is how these two diets are similar.

The authors wanted to compare low-fat vs. low-carb diets, but they also wanted to study genetic and physical makeups that purportedly (their word) could influence how effective each type of diet will be for people. Previous studies had suggested that a difference in a particular genetic sequence could mean that certain people will do better with a low-fat diet. Other studies had suggested that insulin sensitivity may mean that certain people will do better with a low-carb diet.

What DIETFITS revealed about weight loss

The study began with 609 relatively healthy overweight and obese people, and 481 completed the whole year. For the first month, everyone did what they usually did. Then, for the next eight weeks, the low-fat group reduced their total fat intake to 20 grams per day, and the low-carb group reduced their total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. These are incredibly restricted amounts, considering that there are 26 grams of carbs in the yogurt drink I’m enjoying as I write this, and 21 grams of fat in my half of the dark chocolate bar my husband and I split for dessert last night.

That kind of dietary restriction is impossible to maintain over the long term and, as this study showed, unnecessary. Participants were instructed to slowly add back fats or carbs until they reached a level they felt could be maintained for life. In addition, both groups were instructed to

  • eat as many vegetables as possible
  • choose high-quality, nutritious whole foods and limit anything processed
  • prepare food themselves at home
  • avoid trans fats, added sugars, and refined carbohydrates like flour.

People were not asked to count calories at all. Over the course of a year, both groups attended 22 classes reinforcing these very sound principles — and all participants had access to health educators who guided them in behavioral modification strategies, such as emotional awareness, setting goals, developing self-efficacy (also known as willpower), and utilizing social support networks, all to avoid falling back into unhealthy eating patterns.

Participants in both groups also were encouraged to maintain current US government physical activity recommendations, which are “150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week.”

Two different diets that are not so different after all

Get all that? Basically, the differences between groups were minimal. Yes, the low-fat group dropped their daily fat intake and the low-carb group dropped their daily carb intake. But both groups ended up taking in 500 to 600 calories less per day than they had before, and both lost the same average amount of weight (12 pounds) over the course of a year. Those genetic and physical makeups didn’t result in any differences either. The only measure that was different was that the LDL (low density lipoprotein) was significantly lower in the low-fat group, and the HDL (high density lipoprotein) was significantly higher in the low-carb group.

I love this study because it examined a realistic lifestyle change rather than just a fad diet. Both groups, after all, were labeled as healthy diets, and they were, because study investigators encouraged eating high-quality, nutritious whole foods, unlimited vegetables, and avoiding flours, sugars, bad fats, and processed foods. Everyone was encouraged to be physically active at a level most Americans are not. And — this is a big one — everyone had access to basic behavioral counseling aimed at reducing emotional eating.

When it comes to diet, everything old is new again

This whole study could just as well be called a study of sustainable healthy lifestyle change. The results jibe very much with prior research about healthy lifestyle. The end message is the same one that we usually end with:

The best diet is the one we can maintain for life and is only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. People should aim to eat high-quality, nutritious whole foods, mostly plants (fruits and veggies), and avoid flours, sugars, trans fats, and processed foods (anything in a box). Everyone should try to be physically active, aiming for about two and a half hours of vigorous activity per week. For many people, a healthy lifestyle also means better stress management, and perhaps even therapy to address emotional issues that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns.

Image: vadimguzhva-iStock

7 Day… Heart healthy Diet And Weight Loss Meal Plan

Many visitors have requested a typical 7 day heart healthy diet plan with simple meal ideas.

It seems that we are often told what to eat by the experts but are still unsure how to put it together.

As a nutritionist, this is what I do every day… I customize meal plans to maximize nutrition in order to restore the body to health and help you lose unwanted pounds.

Like the DASH DIET this heart healthy diet plan is naturally low in sodium, saturated fats and sugar, but high in the heart healthy minerals: calcium, magnesium and potassium. Results are almost immediate as the flood of good nutrients begin to increase your energy levels and work on healing your body and yes… reducing your blood pressure.

All these recipes can be found on the recipe index page.

Breakfast: Very Berry Smoothie
Lunch: Chicken Ceasar Wrap
Snack: Hummus and Veggies
Dinner: Salmon Bake

Day 2
Breakfast: Mushroom, Pepper and Feta Omelet
Lunch: Chicken grapple Salad
Snack: Yogurt and Berries
Dinner: Turkey Chili

Day 3
Breakfast: Strawberry, Banana Smoothie
Lunch: Salmon, cream cheese crisps
Snack: Freedom foods
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry

Day 4
Breakfast: Yogurt and pineapple
Lunch: Tuna crisp and broccoli soup
Snack: Apple, almonds and cheese snack
Dinner: Spaghetti Squash Dinner

Day 5
Breakfast: Crystals green Supreme Smoothie
Lunch: Berry Chicken Salad
Snack: Soy nuts
Dinner: Baked vegetables with lemon and herb Mackerel or Tilapia fish

Day 6
Breakfast: Fiber 1 cereal with berries, flax seed, skim milk
Lunch: Greek Salad With Chicken
Snack: Homemade Trail Mix
Dinner: Turkey leek and Sweet Potato soup/dinner

Day 7
Breakfast: Oatmeal with protein powder, berries, flax seed and skim milk
Lunch: Egg salad crisp, piece of juicy fruit
Snack: Sliced veggies (celery, cucumber, red pepper, mini carrots), 7 almonds, 1 oz low fat cheese
Dinner: 5 -6 oz Lean Beef Steak, ½ sweet potato, Caesar Salad

Additional Snacks
This meal plan gives you a basic idea on what you can eat to lose weight and improve your heart health. If you are a male you will need 2 balanced snacks a day, if you are female and over 250 lbs you can also add an additional snack. Otherwise if you are hungry, I would munch out on the freedom veggies which are generally high in nutrients but very low in calories.

Fresh quality water, how much do you need? Divide your weight by 2 and that is the number of ounces you need per day. EG: If you weigh 200lbs you need to drink 100 oz of water per day.

Tip: Find yourself a nifty water bottle, if it holds 20 oz that means you need to fill it up 5 times throughout the day!

Remember water keeps you hydrated, feeling full and helps flush out fat. Start your morning with a large glass of water and 3-4 fresh squeezes of lemon juice. This will help cleanse your digestive tract and alkalize your body, it is very refreshing.

You can also drink a variety of herbal teas so long as they haven’t got sugar added.

Combine this heart healthy diet plan with some powerful supplements for even greater benefits. Print off your own meal plan template and use the recipe index to design your own plan. Most importantly, just get started on the heart healthy diet and give your heart some lovin’….

Printable versions:

PDF: 7 Day meal Plan
PDF: Shopping List for 7 Day meal Plan
PDF: Freedom Foods List

Back to: Heart Healthy Diet

Search online for “healthy recipes,” and you’ll get a lot of recipes. But how healthy are they, really? A quarter cup of olive oil in the ingredient list? Many people think olive oil is a “healthy” fat, but how healthy and weight-reducing can something be if a quarter cup is a whopping 477 calories? That’s the equivalent of 10 cups of strawberries. Or 3 whole cantaloupes. Or 4 ears of corn.

Whole natural foods like strawberries, cantaloupes, and corn on the cob are the focus of this 5-Day, Super-Simple Meal Plan For Blood Pressure and Weight Loss.

Weight Loss

Fiber- and water-rich whole foods are not only high in healthful nutrients, they’re low in calorie density, which means that bite by bite, they deliver only about 5 to 10 percent the calories of very-high-calorie-dense foods like butter or olive oil. That means we can enjoy many more bites without going overboard on calories.

Lose the salt. Tune into other delish flavors with this meal plan for blood pressure.

Lowering Blood Pressure

Another thing that’s a killer, literally, about a lot of “healthy” recipes is the massive amounts of salt (sodium chloride) used. We’re told to shake “generous amounts,” but generous shakes can lead to generous stiffening of our poor arteries, high blood pressure, and dramatically increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and other crippling conditions.

Our Pritikin Meal Plan is incredibly low in sodium, but delish. Because when you think about it, what’s better than the natural flavors of fresh, whole foods? Peaches at their ripest? Fresh basil? Big, plump blueberries?

There’s more good news. Many fruits and vegetables are not only naturally low in sodium, they’re rich sources of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Many studies have found that foods rich in these minerals help blunt some of the toxic effects of sodium.

And, as we said earlier, this plan is real simple. Rarely are you in the kitchen for more than a few minutes. We’ve even included tips for quick bites while traveling.

Pritikin Program

Get healthy. Get thin. Take good care of your blood pressure.

And get out of the kitchen in no time.

Start now with ideas from Pritikin’s 5-Day, Super-Simple Meal For Blood Pressure and Weight Loss.

5-Day, Super-Simple Meal Plan For Blood Pressure and Weight Loss



  • Half a Cantaloupe with 1 Cup of Vanilla Greek Yogurt (fat free, no sugar added)

    Scoop out the cantaloupe’s seed-filled center, and drop in the yogurt.

  • Whole-Wheat English Muffin (good brand choice is Food For Life®) spread with Applesauce (no-sugar-added varieties)

    Afraid this big-sized breakfast is big on calories? No way! It tallies up fewer calories than a single typical muffin at Starbucks and other coffeehouses, and that includes the low-fat muffins.

  • Coffee or Tea, if desired

    This meal plan includes loads of fruit, great for helping you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.

    If you’d like, add a little nonfat milk or soymilk and/or a packet of sugar substitute (good choices are sucralose or stevia).

Mid-Morning Snack (enjoy only if hungry)

  • 1 Cup of Sugar Snap Peas and 1 or 2 Apricots

    Go for peas and beans whenever you can! They’re filling, nutrient rich, low in calorie density, and packed with fiber. You’d have to eat about 6 slices of whole-wheat bread to get the same amount of fiber that’s in 1 cup of beans or peas.

    If you’d like to fire up your sugar snap peas a bit, dip them in a little wasabi (Japanese horseradish).


  • Gigantic Chopped Salad with Pritikin-style Thousand Island Dressing

    Throw in just about any veggies already in the crisper, especially the crunchy ones. Here’s a combination that guests love at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

    Cauliflower florets
    Broccoli florets
    Red Onion
    Romaine lettuce greens

    In a large bowl, chop up all your veggies into bite-size pieces using a knife or salad chopper.

    Chill your veggies till ready to serve.

    Meanwhile, whip up your Pritikin-style Thousand Island Dressing (and watch the pounds disappear).

    Pritikin Thousand Island Dressing

    Votes: 20
    Rating: 2.35
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    Two tablespoons of regular Thousand Island dressing packs in about 120 calories and 300 mg of sodium. Our tasty Pritikin Thousand Island Dressing has just 20 calories and 15 mg of sodium.

    Servings Prep Time Cook Time
    162-tablespoon servings 10minutes 0minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    162-tablespoon servings 10minutes

    Cook Time


    • Course Salad Dressing, Vegetarian
    • Cuisine American, Easy, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian


    • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt plain (fat-free)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream, fat free
    • 3/4 cup ketchup (low-sugar, low-sodium) (Good choices are Heinz® No Salt Ketchup, Hunt’s® No-Salt-Added Ketchup, and Westbrae® Unsweetened UnKetchup)
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dry)
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    Servings: 2-tablespoon servings Units:


    • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt plain (fat-free)
    • 1/2 cup sour cream, fat free
    • 3/4 cup ketchup (low-sugar, low-sodium) (Good choices are Heinz® No Salt Ketchup, Hunt’s® No-Salt-Added Ketchup, and Westbrae® Unsweetened UnKetchup)
    • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dry)
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    Servings: 2-tablespoon servings Units:

    • Course Salad Dressing, Vegetarian
    • Cuisine American, Easy, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian


    1. Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
    2. Store in refrigerator for about 4 days, depending on the expiration dates of your dairy ingredients.
  • ½ Whole-Wheat Bagel Smeared with Nonfat Ricotta Cheese and Topped with a Sliced Pluot

    Never tried a pluot? You’re in for a treat! This yummy fruit (it starts arriving in markets in mid-summer) looks and tastes like a plum but with apricot overtones. Other fruits (choose one of your favorites) can work equally well).

Mid-Afternoon Snack (enjoy only if hungry)

  • Bowl of Fresh Cherries


  • Big Salad of Baby Greens, Fresh Basil, and Strawberries

    For a dressing, blend up your own creation of fresh berries, champagne vinegar, and a teaspoon of apple juice concentrate.

  • Seared Salmon (4 oz) with Blueberry Balsamic Bliss and Quinoa

    While shedding pounds and getting your blood pressure under control, you’ll be discovering new favorites like nutty quinoa.

    Our Blueberry Balsamic Bliss is so easy to make. In a saucepan on the stove, simply bring to a boil ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries. Reduce heat and stir regularly until reduced by half. Ladle over your salmon. If you’d like, top with a few blueberries and raspberries.

    Quinoa is real easy, too. For this scrumptious whole grain, you don’t even need the stove. Just combine 1 part quinoa with 2 parts water in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in onion flakes and your favorite salt-free seasoning, and microwave on high for about 4 minutes.

Dessert (enjoy only if hungry)

  • Watermelon Snow Cone

    Here’s a fun version of a fruit favorite. The night before, puree about 6 cups of rough-chopped watermelon (seedless) in a blender until smooth. Pour into a shallow airtight container and freeze. Before serving, let it thaw a little, then mash with a fork and spoon into paper cones or cups.


Some days are you on the road practically all day long? We’ve got you covered. We’ve devoted Day 2 to healthy, slimming choices while traveling.

  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal at Starbucks

    Ask that your oatmeal be made with nonfat milk or soymilk. Tell your Starbucks server to keep the packets of calorie-dense nuts, brown sugar, and raisins. They’ll lead to packets of fat on you. Instead, buy a banana and slice it into your oatmeal. Some Starbucks locations also have blueberries for your oatmeal.

  • Request your latte be unsweetened and made with nonfat milk or soymilk.

    Orange or Apple

    Starbucks sells other whole fruit like oranges and apples. Pick one up for breakfast. If you’re not hungry, buy one anyway for a great snack later in the day.

  • Vanilla Latte

    Request your latte be unsweetened and made with nonfat milk or soymilk. Never tried soymilk? Give it a whirl. Many guests at Pritikin love its nutty, delicious flavor.

  • Salad Bar at the Supermarket

    Many markets, particularly upscale ones like Whole Foods, sport big colorful salad bars. Load up a large container with baby greens, other fresh veggies, and fiber-rich beans like garbanzos. Splash with lemon wedges, balsamic vinegar, or fat-free salad dressing.

  • Veggie Sandwich at Subway

    Ask that your bread be scooped out (it’s a great way to slash your salt and white flour intake). Then have the shelled toasted, and ask that it be loaded with just about every veggie available – lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, spinach, onions, and cucumbers.

    Say “no” to the salt-drenched olives, artery-damaging cheese, and calorie-dense avocados.

    For spreads, steer clear of the fatty mayos and oils. Instead, ask for mustard, vinegar, and sprinklings of black pepper and oregano.

    You’ve just created a sandwich full of excellent nutrition and flavor, and so big you can barely close it, but for less than one-third the calories of many other Subway sandwiches.

  • Baked Potato at Wendy’s

    Yep, Wendy’s. Their potatoes are hot and tasty, a satisfying, slimming snack any time of time. Top your potato, not with waist-busters like sour cream and butter, but with snappy, calorie-light toppings like Wendy’s pico de gallo.

    Many people think potatoes are a no-no food. “Potatoes are actually very good for us, especially for losing weight. Ounce for ounce, potatoes are one of the most filling and low-calorie foods we can eat,” affirms Dr. Danine Fruge, Associate Medical Director at Pritikin. “We just have to watch what we add to them.”

Pritikin Diet

Enjoy a superabundance of healthy, delicious foods. Healthiest Diet on Earth

Simple Dinners

Great for lowering blood pressure. 6 Healthy Dinners With 6 Ingredients Or Less

  • Seafood at a Steakhouse

    Steakhouses are often great places to find healthy entrée choices like grilled fish or chicken breast, and it’s usually pretty easy to get them pure (no greasy batters or salty sauces smothering them).

  • Steamed Vegetables

    At steakhouses, too, you’ll often see steamed vegetables on the menu. Ask for triple the normal serving size. Yes, pile up your plate with veggies! There’s no better way to get full without getting fat.

  • More Sides (if you’re hungry for more)

    The “sides” section of menus is usually the best place to find healthy, low-calorie-dense choices, not only steamed veggies but also baked potatoes, sweet potatotes, corn on the cob, side salads, and more. At steakhouses, too, you’ll often be treated to nice, big salad bars.

  • Basket of Fresh Fruit

    Staying at a hotel for the night? Before setting out on your trip, order a basket of fresh fruit that will be waiting for you in your hotel room when you arrive. A piece of fruit is a perfect after-dinner dessert, and certainly, your basket is a great way to ensure you have healthy fruit snacks by your side all the next day.


  • Oatmeal with Fresh Berries and Nonfat Milk or Soymilk

    For weight control, go for hot rather than cold cereal. That’s because cold, dry cereals are far more calorically dense. Per bite, you’re taking in about three to four times the calories of cooked cereals like oatmeal.

  • If you’d like, add a little nonfat milk or soymilk and/or a packet of sugar substitute (good choices are sucralose or stevia).

  • Heirloom Gazpacho

    Want to shed pounds? Enjoy soups, hot or cold. They tend to be low in calorie density, and research, particularly from Penn State University, has found they do a great job of filling you up.

    Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

    Votes: 1
    Rating: 5
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    Our Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho is refreshing and so simple! Just combine the following ingredients and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

    Servings Prep Time Cook Time
    4people 25minutes 0minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    4people 25minutes

    Cook Time


    • Course Lunch, Snack, Soup
    • Cuisine Easy, Latin American, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian


    • 2 heirloom tomatoes small diced, seeds removed
    • 2 cups veggie juice (very low-sodium) such as Knudsen’s Very Veggie Juice
    • 1 teaspoon coriander ground
    • 1 teaspoon Italian parsley leaves picked & chopped
    • 1/4 cup vidalia onions minced
    • 1 teaspoon garlic minced
    • 1/2 jalapeno pepper minced
    • 1/2 cup cucumber peeled, seeded, minced
    • 1/2 red bell pepper seeded, minced
    • 2 tablespoons purple basil (optional) If used, slice thinly.

    Servings: people Units:


    • 2 heirloom tomatoes small diced, seeds removed
    • 2 cups veggie juice (very low-sodium) such as Knudsen’s Very Veggie Juice
    • 1 teaspoon coriander ground
    • 1 teaspoon Italian parsley leaves picked & chopped
    • 1/4 cup vidalia onions minced
    • 1 teaspoon garlic minced
    • 1/2 jalapeno pepper minced
    • 1/2 cup cucumber peeled, seeded, minced
    • 1/2 red bell pepper seeded, minced
    • 2 tablespoons purple basil (optional) If used, slice thinly.

    Servings: people Units:

    • Course Lunch, Snack, Soup
    • Cuisine Easy, Latin American, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian


    1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except basil.
    2. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
    3. Pour into serving bowls. Sprinkle ribbons of basil on top.

  • Tomato and Peach Salad

    This exquisite salad was inspired by a recipe in a 19th century cookbook from Tuscany. If you can’t get good peaches, nectarines work well. All you do is slice up 2 peaches and 2 ripe but firm large tomatoes. Combine in bowl and lightly drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar, a teaspoon of walnut oil, and fresh lemon juice. Add freshly ground black pepper and a small handful of chopped walnuts. (If weight loss is a goal, leave out the walnuts and oil because they’re very dense with calories.)

  • 1 Corn on the Cob
  • 1 Cup of Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt with Fresh Raspberries and ½ Banana
  • Feeling thirsty?

    Lemonade’s a favorite any time of year, but did you know that a 12-ounce glass of regular lemonade has about 150 calories? Drinking one every day could add up to a 15-pound weight gain in one year. Get 0 calories and lots of fresh lemon flavor by squeezing several wedges of lemon into a tall glass of ice water. Pour in a packet of Splenda (sucralose) or stevia, and stir.

The burgers on this Meal Plan for Blood Pressure and Weight Loss have half the calories of red meat patties, and zero artery-clogging saturated fat.

  • Cook it all on the grill! Veggie Burgers, Whole-Wheat Buns, Grilled Veggies

    Veggie patties have only about half the calories of red meat patties, and 0 artery-clogging saturated fat. A good lower-sodium choice is Gardenburger® (Garden Vegan).

    For whole-wheat buns, look for lower-sodium brands, such as Food For Life®. It’s so important to watch sodium intake. The more sodium, or salt, we eat, the greater our risk of hypertension. Having hypertension means we’re 4 times more likely to develop heart disease.

    Grilled vegetables have great smoky flavor. Cut up a bunch of veggies in thick, grillable slices. Excellent choices for the grill include bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, red onions, and portobello mushrooms. Spray them very lightly with oil spray and sprinkle with a salt-free all-purpose seasoning. Grill enough veggies so that you have leftovers for egg white omelettes, sandwiches, or pasta the next day.

    Top your veggie burger with your grilled veggies along with crisp Romaine lettuce and a smear of low-sodium Dijon mustard, and enjoy a nice hefty serving of veggies on the side.

  • Use the Grill for Dessert, too! Grilled Pineapple Slices

    Sprinkle pineapple slices with cinnamon about a half hour before grilling. Grill about 5 minutes on medium-high heat on both sides. Top with a creamy dollop of fat-free sour cream mixed with a touch of vanilla extract and sucralose or stevia.


  • Scrambled Egg Whites with Grilled Veggies and Nonfat Ricotta Cheese

    Use the grilled veggies left over from last night’s dinner. So easy! For a little kick, sprinkle on hot sauce. Good low-sodium choices are Pritikin varieties, Bone Suckin’® Sauce, Dave’s Gourmet, Tabasco, and Pukka.

  • 1 or 2 Slices Whole-Wheat Toast

    If you’re running late, make breakfast-in-a-bowl by breaking your toast into a bowl and topping with the egg whites, veggies, and nonfat ricotta cheese. You’re out the door!

    We don’t use yolks at Pritikin. Regardless of public relations campaigns saying “eggs are the perfect food,” yolks are far from perfect. They’re loaded with dietary cholesterol, which research has repeatedly found raises blood cholesterol.

  • If you’d like, add a little nonfat milk or soymilk and/or a packet of sugar substitute (good choices are sucralose or stevia).

The Pritikin Program for Lower Blood Pressure

Get your blood pressure down – and keep it down – without the need for medication. Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

  • Fruit Salsa

    Use whatever fruits you already have. Great choices are melons, mangos, and berries. Chop them up. Put them in a big bowl. Then add chopped onions, chopped fresh cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime, to taste. Enjoy alone as a snack, and if you have extras, use as a fat-free, no-salt salad dressing. It’s also fantastic spooned over grilled fish.

    Numerous studies have found that eating foods rich in water, like fruits, vegetables, hot cereals, and soups, helps keep you satisfied on fewer calories. Yes, they’re great weight-loss foods!

  • Big Farmer’s Market Salad

    Throw in a variety of fresh seasonal produce, veggies as well as fruit. For a dressing, enjoy the fruit salad you made for your mid-morning snack, or use really good balsamic vinegar. Our guests at Pritikin have found that with top-quality balsamic vinegar, they don’t need any oil on their salads. A brand they buy by the case is Roland Diamond Balsamic Vinegar. It’s expensive but worth it, they resoundingly agree.

  • Curry Hummus Dip and Cucumbers in a Whole-Wheat Pita

    Make up a batch of Curry Hummus Dip and refrigerate for enjoyment all week long.

    Curry Hummus Dip

    Votes: 2
    Rating: 2.5
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    This Curry Hummus Dip makes a fabulous spread for pitas and sandwiches. And what a difference for your waistline and blood pressure! A schmear has about one-seventh the calories of butter or mayo – and about 20 times less sodium than most store-bought hummus.

    Prep Time Cook Time
    20minutes 17minutes

    Prep Time


    Cook Time


    • Course Dip, Leftovers, Snack
    • Cuisine Easy, Middle Eastern, Vegan, Vegetarian


    • 1/4 cup onion chopped
    • 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
    • 1 tomato diced
    • 1 teaspoon ginger freshly grated
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
    • 1/2 teaspoon coriander ground
    • 1 tablespoon Caribbean curry powder (no-salt-added varieties)
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves picked and chopped
    • 1 tablespoon Pritikin® All-Purpose Seasoning*
    • 2 cups garbanzo beans (no salt added) cooked and drained

    Servings: 1/4 cup per serving Units:


    • 1/4 cup onion chopped
    • 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
    • 1 tomato diced
    • 1 teaspoon ginger freshly grated
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
    • 1/2 teaspoon coriander ground
    • 1 tablespoon Caribbean curry powder (no-salt-added varieties)
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves picked and chopped
    • 1 tablespoon Pritikin® All-Purpose Seasoning*
    • 2 cups garbanzo beans (no salt added) cooked and drained

    Servings: 1/4 cup per serving Units:

    • Course Dip, Leftovers, Snack
    • Cuisine Easy, Middle Eastern, Vegan, Vegetarian


    1. In a medium nonstick saucepan, sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes onion, garlic, and tomato.
    2. Add ginger, cumin, coriander, Caribbean curry powder, thyme, and Pritikin All-Purpose Seasoning. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes. (The consistency should be like paste.)
    3. Add garbanzo beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
    4. While still hot, pour mixture into food processor and puree. Cool.
    5. Optional: Garnish with sliced apples.

    Recipe Notes

    * Make your own all-purpose seasoning by blending together your favorite herbs and spices such as paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and dried basil. You can also purchase our chefs’ Pritikin® All-Purpose Seasoning in the Online Store at pritikin.com or call 305-935-7131.

  • ½ Cup Cottage Cheese with Sliced Nectarines

    For cottage cheese, look for nonfat, low-sodium varieties, such as Friendship (1%, No Salt Added). A half-cup of many cottage cheeses contains nearly a third the sodium most of us should have for the entire day.

  • Mahi Mahi Ceviche

    No need to heat up the stove! In a large glass bowl, simply combine 1 pound of mahi mahi (this dish serves 4) cut into short thin pieces, ½ cup lime juice, ½ cup chopped and seeded tomatoes, a seeded and finely minced habanero pepper, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss well, and sprinkle a finely sliced small red onion on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Then, stir to incorporate the onions, and refrigerate 1 hour more.

  • Whole-Wheat Pasta Alla Checca

    Another easy favorite! The only thing you have to cook is the pasta. In a big pasta serving bowl, toss in about 2 pounds of fresh, diced, richly flavored tomatoes, crushed garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and a big handful of torn fresh basil leaves. Add the cooked pasta. Stir. If desired, top each individual bowl with a little reduced-fat Parmesan cheese (Kraft®) or soy/veggie-based Parmesan (Galaxy Nutritional Foods®)

  • Perfectly Pritikin “Ice Cream”

    Learn how to turn fruit into a frozen dessert that tastes like soft serve ice cream.

    There’s a counter-top appliance called Yonanas, sold at stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, that turns fruit into a frozen dessert that tastes like soft serve ice cream. You freeze really ripe bananas, let them thaw just slightly, then feed them into a Yonanas and add any other frozen fruit, like mango. “It’s perfectly Pritikin ice cream,” smiles Pritikin RD Kimberly Gomer. Top with fresh berries, if desired.


  • Polenta With Berry Puree

    Okay, you’ve got to turn the stove on, but not for long! Pour one-half cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pour a half cup of polenta (Italian for yellow cornmeal) into a small mixing bowl, and whisk in a half cup of cold water. When combined, add to boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Top with raspberries and blueberries that have been slightly pureed in a blender. It’s a sweet, creamy, morning treat.

  • Cup Of Nonfat Plain Yogurt (Greek Or Regular) With Sliced Fruit Swirled In

    Want it a tad sweeter? Stir in a packet of sucralose or stevia.

  • If you’d like, add a little nonfat milk or soymilk and a packet of sugar substitute (sucralose or stevia).

  • Hefty Handful Of Grapes

    High-fiber, high-water foods like fruit give you stomach-filling satisfaction, but at a very low calorie cost. Three big bunches of grapes are the caloric equivalent of one small energy bar (which, let’s face it, is gone in three bites, so is one bar ever enough?).

  • Ready-Made Soup Extraordinare

    Make lunch super easy! Open up a can of veggie-and-bean soup, or nuke a frozen package. Just make sure you’re staying away from the many salt-slugged brands on the market. Good, very-low-sodium alternatives include Pritikin, Health Valley Organic, Tabatchnick, and some of Trader Joe’s soups, like Low-Sodium Minestrone.

    While your soup is heating up, toss in any other fresh veggies or herbs you have sitting in the refrigerator bin, plus, if you’d like, seasonings like red pepper flakes or garlic.

    For an extra-hearty soup, microwave any kind of baking potato – a red skin potato, a yellow potato – dice it up, and add it to your soup.

  • Applesauce, No Sugar Added

    Good brand choices are Mott’s, Tree Top, Santa Cruz Organic, and many store brands.

  • Edamame

    In markets now (even Costco), you can find in the frozen food section edamame (young soybeans in their pods) packaged in single-serving packets that you simply toss in the microwave and cook on HIGH for about 3 minutes. They’re nutty and creamy-crunchy. You just pop them out of their shells, like eating peanuts. Plus, they’re packed with fiber (9 grams for a half-cup shelled).

    And because you need to peel open the pods, you slow down your food intake – always a good thing.

Easy Chicken Tacos are a great addition to this meal plan for blood pressure and weight loss.

  • Easy Chicken Tacos

    In a hot nonstick skillet, sauté for about 2 minutes 1 cup of chopped onions, 1 cup chopped green and red bell peppers, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of no-salt-added Mexican Seasoning (many companies, like Lawry’s and McCormick, make good no-salt varieties of seasonings).

    Add a bag of pre-cooked chicken breast strips (low-sodium choices include Trader Joe’s Just Chicken and Nature’s Rancher Grilled Strips), and stir till warm, about 1 minute. Dollop into corn tortillas (microwave them on HIGH between moistened paper towels for 1 to 1½ minutes). Top with low-sodium salsa.

    To keep your saturated fat intake low, keep your chicken intake low – 4 ounces or less.

  • Fiesta Corn Salad

    You’ll likely have plenty of this zesty, filling dish left over for lunches and/or side dishes tomorrow.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 can kidney beans (no salt added), 1 bag (10 oz) of frozen white corn kernels (thawed), ½ cup chopped green bell pepper, and 2/3 cup no-salt-added or very-low-sodium salsa, like Enrico’s or Casa Sanchez (located in the refrigerated section).

  • Dark Chocolate Pudding

    A good fat-free, no-sugar-added brand, packaged in single-serving, 60-calorie cups, is Jell-O. Dress up your pudding, if you’d like, by scooping it into a little ice cream dish and topping it with a dollop of fat-free Greek vanilla yogurt topped with fresh raspberries.

Cooking School

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Who knew shedding weight could be so delish and satisfying! See a sample menu “

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