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Confused about a heart-healthy diet? Not a good sign

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Just in time for American Heart Month, a new survey says people are confused by what a heart-healthy diet is.

And considering heart disease is the number one killer of women, it’s not a good sign we’re confused.


Many Americans all want to be just a little healthier. But sometimes, the route isn’t an easy one, especially for those trying to boost their heart health.

Dietician Sarah James says people might not know how to go about it.

“Guidelines have changed a bit over the last few years. We did used to focus solely on low-fat, taking fat out of your diet as much as possible.”

The Cleveland Clinic survey shows about half of Americans have tried a diet in the past year to potentially improve heart health.

But they’re focusing on only going low-fat when that’s only half the battle.

“We now know there are some beneficial fats…we still do avoid trans-fat. We limit saturated fat. We do encourage good fats but still to a minimum. Really, for the heart-healthy, you’re watching cholesterol, which is a big part of it and sodium.”

But only about five percent tried the Mediterrranean diet.

It’s similar to the dash diet, the one James recommends.

“fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, less processed foods, that’s more of the Mediterranean style,” said James. “And then lean protein. You’re wanting more fish, chicken, lean meats. And then lastly, making sure you get whole grains. More wheat breads, more wheat pastas.”

The survey also shows Americans understand how important healthy eating is, but it’s hard for them to part with certain snacks.

“Sugary sodas. That’s a huge one for a lot of people is they don’t want to go without their sweet tea or their soda.”

Cutting out those guilty pleasures might seem like a daunting task.

“It’s not about giving everything you enjoy up. It’s about eating things in moderation. And it’s the special occasions that come around are ok as long as it’s just not every day…Find alternatives you can stick to for the rest of your life that are better for you.”

For more about what exactly you should eat to promote healthy hearts, check out the extended interview.

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