Mayo Clinic Cardiac Diet

Home cooked meals are healthiest

The Mayo Clinic Cardiac Diet is a simple plan that incorporates a balance of whole foods for a healthy heart and body. Learn more about heart healthy food selections and the Mayo Clinic's recommendations.

Heart Health

Whether you have a heart condition, are concerned about your risks, or are merely interested in taking a proactive approach to heart health, the Mayo Clinic cardiac diet is a sensible approach to help reach your goals.

The Mayo Clinic Cardiac Diet

Following are some key points that encompass the Mayo Clinic's heart-healthy diet, also called the cardiac diet.

Limit Unhealthy Fats

Reducing your blood cholesterol level is a significant step in decreasing risks for heart complications and dangerous conditions, such as coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in your arteries). Saturated fat and trans fats are abundant in processed, fried and fast food items. While you cannot always be sure of fat content in your to-go bag, you can read labels on foods purchased from your grocery store and items in your own kitchen. Eating out may be the tastiest and most convenient option, however, if you want to manage your diet, consider cooking at home. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting your intake of solid fats, such as butter, margarine and shortening. Finding substitutions may be the best way to ease yourself into a healthy diet without feeling deprived. It may take you a while to adjust to lower fat versions of your favorites, however, your tastes will eventually evolve, as will a more energetic you. Other ways to trim fat (literally) are:

  • Trim the fat: trimming fat from your meat can shave a great number of calories and fat from your diet
  • Check food labels: even on foods that appear healthy, as lower fat snacks may contains trans fats disguised as "partially hydrogenated" fats or oils.
  • Swap old fats for healthy fats: heart healthy fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Find these heart-healthy fats in canola oil, olive oil, fatty fish and nuts or seeds. Keep in mind, however, calories in these foods add up quickly.

Select Low-fat Protein Foods

Protein is essential to building and sustaining muscle. Ideally, every meal will include a source of protein for satiation and energy. Swapping higher fat protein foods with healthier choices will help you reduce fat and calories simultaneously. Here are some options:

  • Pick lean meats over breaded, fried and skin-on selections
  • Choose low fat cheese, milk and other dairy
  • Substitute some of your meat portions with fish, beans and legumes, which offer all of the protein and less fat

Whole Grains

Whole grains are preferred over white breads, rice, pasta and snack items. Fiber content in these foods is both satisfying and wholesome.

Increase Your Intake of fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies offer an abundance vitamins and minerals without many calories. In addition, fruits and veggies are packed with fiber and water, which aid digestion and substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Limit Salt

High blood pressure, which poses risks to your heart, can result form a high-salt diet. When cutting out salt, keep in mind that much of your salt intake may be derived from canned or processed foods. Refraining from sprinkling salt over your meal is helpful, however, avoiding ready-made soups, frozen foods and other high-salt items may have a greater impact.

Control Portions

Portion control is a major component to a healthy diet. Too much of anything-even healthy foods-is not good. Pay attention to serving sizes on packages and teach yourself to recognize adequate portion sizes. You may need to measure some foods, such as pasta or rice.


As with any diet plan, persistence is the key to success You may not be able to overhaul old habits overnight, so make small changes everyday and soon you will see progress. In addition, the Mayo Clinic recommends indulging on occasion. While a slice of chocolate cake is not a healthy food choice, allowing yourself an occasional treat will help keep you inspired to stay with the Mayo Clinic Cardiac Diet.

Mayo Clinic Cardiac Diet