A Heart-Healthy Diet Plan Includes Whole Grains

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Heart Health Principles
Last Reviewed 02/18/2014

A Heart-Healthy Diet Plan Includes Whole Grains

I am confident that My Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet is the best overall heart-healthy diet plan for reducing your risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. And some whole grains, legumes, nuts, soy and seeds are the foundation of the PAM diet.

These heart-healthy foods provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates are “slow burners”—meaning they convert to glucose slowly, support stable blood sugar levels, and aren’t converted to fat as easily as refined carbohydrates. And seeds, nuts and beans contain important nutrients called phytosterols, which can help decrease your risk of heart disease.

How Much Should You Eat in a Heart-Healthy Diet Plan?

I recommend that you aim for one to two servings of whole grains three to four times a week. One serving is equal to

  • ¼ to ½ cup steel cut oatmeal
  • ½ cup cold whole-grain cereal like amaranth, quinoa, and barley
  • 1 slice multi-grain bread such as ezekiel
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup short grain brown rice

Also, aim for one to two servings of legumes daily. One serving is equal to

  • ½ cup cooked beans, chickpeas, or lentils

In terms of soy, aim for two servings of soy weekly in a heart-healthy diet plan. One serving is equal to

  • 4 ounces tofu or tempeh
  • 1 cup soy milk

Finally, try for two to three servings of nuts and seeds daily. One serving is equal to

  • 8 walnut halves or 12 almonds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame paste), peanut butter or other nut butter (choose varieties made from 100 percent nuts or seeds with no added oils or sugars)

Note: Serving guidelines are based on a 1,800 to 2,000 calories-per-day eating plan. If your goal is weight reduction, consume smaller portions in order to lower your caloric intake.

More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Heart-Healthy Diet Plans

Want to know how dairy foods fit into the PAM diet for optimal heart health? Get all the details on the role of dairy products in the heart-healthy PAM eating plan.

How much—and what type of—fat can you eat as part of the heart-healthy PAM diet plan? Get the skinny on fats in the PAM diet for optimal heart health.

Want more specifics on the PAM diet for optimal heart health? Get all the details on the heart-healthy PAM eating plan.

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