Published on February 15, 2018

Heart Healthy Eating

By Teresa Farrell, Licensed and Registered Dietician at Essentia Health.

Whether you have heart disease, a family history of heart disease or are simply concerned, now is a good time to look at a heart healthy diet with February being American Heart Month.

There are many risk factors in developing heart disease, some you can control and others you cannot.

The risk factors you cannot control include: age, gender and family history of heart disease.

Risk factors you can control are:

  • high cholesterol and triglycerides
  • hypertension/high blood pressure
  • diabetes and prediabetes
  • overweight and obesity
  • unhealthy diet
  • smoking
  • lack of physical activity
  • stress

Eating the right type of diet can help improve many of the controllable risk factors. There are many different eating plans that can improve these risk factors. They include the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean. These eating styles are all very similar in that they are rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, nuts, seeds and legumes. They also include fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry (without the skin), eggs, soy products and olive and canola oils.

A heart healthy diet limits your intake of sodium (including salt), saturated (animal fats and those solid at room temperature) and trans fats (mainly created through the process of hydrogenation, look for the words partially hydrogenated on the ingredient list of the food label to signify trans fat, the goal is as little as possible), added sugars (such as corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, agave, date sugar and raw sugar) and alcohol.

Below is a heart healthy, delicious, sweet and sour pork recipe. Enjoy!

Sweet & Sour Pork
1 ¼ lb. pork tenderloin, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in own juice
3 cups peeled, thinly sliced carrots
2 cups snow peas, ends trimmed
½ Tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup sliced scallions
3 ½ cups cooked brown rice (from 1 cup uncooked brown rice)


  1. Cut pork tenderloin into ½ inch pieces
  2. Add pork into a medium bowl or large Ziploc bad along with cornstarch, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and ginger. Add all the pineapple juice from; the can of pineapple chunks (about 1 cup) into the bowl/Ziploc bag. (Reserve pineapple chunks for later use). Mix together to combine and set aside for later.
  3. Peel and thinly slice the carrots and trim the ends of the snow peas.
  4. In a large skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and stirring occasionally cook about 5 minutes. Stir snow peas and pork into the mixture. Sautéing and stirring constantly, cook until vegetables are soft and pork is fully cooked, about 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in reserved pineapple chunks and scallions. Cook 1 minute and remove from heat. Serve over brown rice.

Nutrition facts:
Serves 6, 1 ½ cups sweet and sour pork and ¾ cup brown rice
Per serving: 340 Calories, 1.0 gm saturated fat, 183 mg sodium
*recipe from the American Heart Association

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