When a doctor prescribes the cardiac diet for a patient, it's usually because he is at high risk for a heart attack, according to the Cardiac Diet website. The diet can benefit people who aren't at risk, though, as a preventive measure against heart disease. Rules for choosing cardiac diet menu foods include options with reduced fat, a large amount of fruit and vegetables, low-sodium products and foods prepared in healthy ways, like broiling, roasting, baking or steaming.
Meat, Poultry and Seafood
One of the main rules of the cardiac diet is to greatly reduce saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease and raises bad cholesterol. Though animal products produce the highest levels of saturated fat, this diet permits three ounces of lean cuts of meat three to four times per week. Trim visible pieces of fat on meat products before cooking or eating. Beef cuts, such as eye round and top sirloin, and pork tenderloin, represent good selections for the cardiac diet. Lean, white pieces of chicken are permissible in the diet if the skin is removed. Chicken thighs, drumsticks and breast meat contain the lowest percentage of saturated fats. Add fish, like salmon and mackerel, to the cardiac diet for variety and the additional benefit of protection they offer from heart disease with their omega-3 fatty acids.
Whole grains provide a healthy variety in the cardiac diet. They still maintain the wheat and germ refined grains lose during processing, so they provide nutrients like fiber and protein. Eat whole grains in the form of wild and brown rice, wheat and nine-grain breads, unsweetened bran or whole wheat cereal while on the cardiac diet.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables compose a large part of the cardiac diet. Attempt to consume five to nine servings per day, suggests Decatur Memorial Hospital. Fruits and vegetables offer a good source of antioxidants, nutrients that prevent free radical damage to the body as it uses oxygen, and help prevent heart disease. Good choices for a cardiac diet menu include broccoli, spinach and kale, which also provide beta-carotene and vitamin A. Fruit choices can include apricots, strawberries and kiwi.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy options to use in the cardiac diet These fats lower bad cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats include olive, peanut, canola and sunflower oil. Polyunsaturated fats include most nuts and seeds, soybean oil, safflower oil and fatty fish like tuna and trout.