Small Shifts for Heart Health

We’ve talked about the basics of smart choices for heart health before. In a nutshell, Eat Smart in line with MyPlate, Move More to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, and maintain a healthy weight. But knowing what to do is the easy part. Actually making those changes are where a lot of people struggle. So in line with the idea of MyPlate, MyWins, let’s talk about small shifts you can make for heart health.

Small shifts for heart health

Eat Smart

Limit Added Sugar to less than 10% of calories.

This comes out to about less than 12 teaspoons a day for a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet. The biggest source of added sugar in the American diet is sugar-sweetened beverages – soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, coffee milkshakes drinks, etc.

Top sources of added sugar in the American Diet


  • Shift to water, low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk, unsweetened tea, and 100% juice (stick to just 1 cup per day) instead of sugary drinks.
  • Shift to fresh, frozen, or canned fruit without added sugar.
  • Shift to fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth in place of sugary desserts.

Limit Saturated Fat to less than 10% of calories and avoid Trans Fat.

Most of our saturated fat comes from animal products – meat and dairy, especially cheese.

Top Sources of Saturated Fat in the American Diet


  • Shift to include more plant-based proteins and seafood in your meals and snacks in place of fattier cuts of meat.
  • Shift to better cooking fats made of oils instead of butter, lard, or shortening.
  • Shift to low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk instead of 2% or whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream for drinking or baking.

Limit Sodium to less than 2300 mg per day.

Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker. Check out this list of the Salty Six of the biggest sources of sodium in our diets and be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label when grocery shopping.

Top Sources of Sodium in the American Diet


  • Shift to no-salt-added and unseasoned versions of canned or frozen vegetables.
  • Shift to fresh [lean] meat and poultry instead of processed hot dogs, lunch meat or sausages.
  • Shift to cooking from scratch more often instead of packaged foods like flavored rice, instant noodles, or ready made pasta.
  • Shift to adding flavor with herbs, spices, lemons, vinegar and other salt-free seasonings.

Move More

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity Physical Activity.

This works out to about 30 minutes of activity 5 or more days a week. And remember, higher intensity activity counts double, so you’ll get as much benefit in half the time.



Add 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening activities each week.

Muscle-strengthening activities can help maintain muscle mass as you age and prevent weak bones. Be sure to work all your major muscle groups.

  • Shift to using these resistance band workouts twice a week.
  • Shift to starting the morning off with a few bodyweight exercises instead of a second cup of coffee.

Add more Lifestyle Physical Activity to your days.

It’s not enough to exercise 150 minutes a week and sit on your bum the remaining 9,930 minutes of the week. Science is learning that too much sitting is bad for us, whether we exercise regularly or not. That’s where lifestyle physical activity comes in.

  • Shift to finding ways to move more throughout the day instead of sitting.
  • Shift to finding active hobbies for your family to enjoy instead of watching TV.
  • Shift to active transportation as much as possible, depending on your neighborhood.
  • Shift to stretch breaks instead of coffee breaks at work.

What are shifts you’ve made in your life to eat smart or more more?

2 comments on “Small Shifts for Heart Health

  1. Sandra @ Baby Insider on

    Such an informative post with so many great tips, I’m the one prepare my family’s meals so I want to prepare the healthiest meals for them, thanks 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.