The Best Heart Health Diet and the Role of Whole Grains
Lower your risk of heart disease and boost heart health by emphasizing whole grains, nuts, and seeds as part of the Pan-Asian Mediterranean diet
I am confident that the best overall diet for reducing your risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, is my Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet. And whole grains, legumes, nuts, soy, and seeds are the foundation of the PAM diet. These 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?
For a healthy heart, I recommend that you aim for one to two servings of whole grains daily. One serving is equal to:
- ¼ to ½ cup coarse oatmeal
- ½ cup cold whole-grain cereal
- 1 slice multi-grain bread
- 1 (6-inch diameter) whole-wheat tortilla
- 1 (4-inch diameter) multi-grain pancake
- 3 tablespoons wheat germ.
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. 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 Eating for Heart Health
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 eating 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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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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