To help you follow a heart-smart diet, here's a seven-day food plan that incorporates lean proteins and low-fat dairy products, unsaturated fats, loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of fiber. Plus, it's easy to follow. This meal plan is based on approximately 1,800 calories, so if your doctor recommends you lose weight, you may need to scale down portions and trim off a few foods. On the other hand, if your weight is stable (or you could stand to gain a few pounds), increase the lean protein portions and add some more olive oil, fruits, and veggies.
Seven-Day Food Plan
- Day 1
Oatmeal and fruit: 1 serving of oatmeal (½ cup dry oatmeal) prepared with water, 3 tablespoons of raisins, or 1 banana, or 1½ cups of berries or melon—mixed with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds—plus 1 slice of whole-wheat bread, toasted and topped with a spread of plant sterol or stanol margarine (e.g., Benecol or Take Control).
- Day 2
Cereal/milk/fruit: 1 cup high-fiber cereal (any brand that provides 5+ grams fiber and 120 calories or less per serving)—1 cup skim, 1% low-fat milk or soymilk—plus 1 serving of any type of fruit (½ banana, 1 cup berries, or 2 tablespoons of raisins)—plus 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, topped with a spread of plant sterol or stanol margarine (e.g., Benecol or Take Control).
- Day 3
Tomato/cheese toast with fruit: 2 slices of whole-wheat bread, toasted and topped with tomato slices and 2 slices of melted low-fat or nonfat cheese—plus 1 serving of any type of fruit.
- Day 4
Egg white omelet: 5 egg whites, or a small container of egg substitute, with any kind of vegetable thrown in (for example: onion, tomato, and pepper)—use nonstick cooking spray to fry eggs—plus 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with a spread of plant sterol or stanol margarine. Also, you have the option of 1 fruit serving.
- Day 5
Yogurt and fruit: One container (8-ounce) of nonfat, flavored yogurt (or 1 cup 1% cottage cheese)—mixed with 1 serving of any type of fruit—plus 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds and 2 tablespoons wheat germ—plus 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, with a spread of plant sterol/stanol margarine.
- Day 6
Toast/tomato/salmon with fruit: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast topped with a thin spread of light cream cheese, sliced tomato, and salmon. Also, 1 serving of fruit.
- Day 7
Soy/Fruit smoothie: 1 cup soymilk mixed with 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 banana, and ice cubes; place in a blender and mix. With 1 slice of whole-wheat toast topped with 2 teaspoons of natural peanut butter.
- Breakfast beverages: Coffee or tea with skim milk—and of course, water. Try to avoid all fruit juice.
- 1 piece of fruit, with 1 slice of low-fat cheese, or tofu cheese
- 1 sliced apple with 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter
- Small bag of oat bran pretzels
- 1 ounce of walnuts or almonds
- Nonfat flavored yogurt (8-ounce container)
- 1 cup baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus
- Large pear
Morning snack options (choose only one):
Food for Thought
Consider taking a low-dose aspirin every day if you're at risk for heart disease. Aspirin can help fight harmful blood clots. BUT, as always, speak with your physician before you do anything new.
- Day 1
Soup and pita bread: A bowl of noncreamy, vegetable-based soup (approximately 2 cups)—try tomato, minestrone, lentil, chicken noodle, vegetarian chili, tomato rice, etc.—you'll need to avoid the versions that use cream, whole milk, or cheese in the ingredients. With that, 1 regular-size whole-wheat pita bread and a vegetable salad with 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing (or 1 teaspoon olive oil and unlimited vinegar).
- Day 2
Sandwich and salad: 3–5 ounces of lean turkey breast, grilled chicken, lean ham, or low-fat tuna salad—on 2 slices of whole-wheat or rye bread, with 1 slice low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard, catsup, barbecue sauce, or low-fat mayonnaise. With that, one side salad with 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing (or 1 teaspoon of olive oil and unlimited vinegar).
- Day 3
Grilled fish and vegetables: 3–4 ounces of grilled or barbecued chicken breast (no skin)—or any type of grilled fish with a side of steamed or lightly grilled vegetables (2 cups)—plus a medium sweet potato. Day 4 Japanese food: A salad with ginger dressing (go easy), an order of edamame (soybeans), plus 4 pieces of sushi and 5 pieces of sashimi. Use low-sodium soy sauce and unlimited fresh ginger.
- Day 4
Japanese food:A salad with ginger dressing (go easy), an order of edamame (soybeans), plus 4 pieces of sushi and 5 pieces of sashimi. Use low-sodium soy sauce and unlimited fresh ginger.
- Day 5
Chinese food: An order of steamed chicken or tofu with mixed vegetables. Ask for the garlic sauce on the side and use 1–2 tablespoons on your dish, then sprinkle additional low-sodium soy sauce— plus ½ cup of brown rice.
- Day 6
Large salad entree: Unlimited raw vegetables—topped with 3–5 ounces plain tuna, grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, chicken breast, turkey breast, or tofu—plus 1/2 cup of chickpeas, beans, or corn—plus 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts—and 2–3 teaspoons of olive oil and unlimited vinegar. Also, 1 whole-wheat pita.
- Day 7
Potato and chili: Plain baked potato with 2 cups of vegetarian chili and low-fat sour cream.
Afternoon snack options (choose only one):
- Fresh fruit
- 1 ounce nuts
- 1 cup edamame (soybeans in the pod)
- Baby carrots and salsa
- Any of the morning snacks
- Appetizers: Salads (use olive oil and vinegar, or vinaigrette), or shrimp cocktail with red sauce, or mussels marinara, or steamed artichokes, or sliced tomatoes, or vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, etc.).
- Entree: 5 ounces of grilled/broiled/baked chicken breast, fish, seafood, tofu, turkey breast, lean pork, (red meat 1 time per week; however, you can have buffalo and venison more frequently), veggie burgers, turkey burgers, or soy burgers.
- Unlimited vegetables: Anything goes! Steamed or lightly grilled with olive oil or vegetable oil, or with plant sterol margarine spread.
- Starch: ½–1 cup of whole-grain starch; brown rice, couscous, or whole-wheat pasta with olive oil or marinara sauce, or small sweet potato.
- Optional alcohol: 1 glass of red or white wine.
- Dessert options: Fresh fruit, or a scoop of fruit sorbet, or 6–8 ounces of a low-fat frozen yogurt or light ice cream. Also, you may choose to have any frozen low-fat pop that is 100 calories or less.
- Lots of seltzer water or any other type of water with your dinner.
Drink water or noncaloric, flavored seltzers throughout the day.
Dinner guidelines: Choose one from each category: