(WGHP) — Keeping your heart healthy isn’t just one thing.

You can exercise all you need to do, but if your diet isn’t good, your heart could be struggling.

A clinical dietician at Novant Health joined FOX8 to discuss diet and heart health on this week’s House Call.

How much of my diet should consist of fruits and vegetables?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for making half of your plate at each meal fruits and vegetables.

All of the food groups are important because we get different nutrients from different foods, but fruits and vegetables should make up about half of our diet.

For most adults, this amounts to about 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables each day.

What is the best protein for your heart?

Beans and lentils are great sources of protein that are good for your heart due to the high amount of fiber in them. As for meats, fatty fish like sardines and salmon are good sources of healthy fats.

Healthy fat vs unhealthy fats


Trans Fats should be avoided because they have been linked heavily to heart disease. They are banned in the U.S., so it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter them in your foods.

Saturated fat, which are fats that are solid at room temperature such should be limited to less than 10% of your daily calories. Eating too much can increase your “bad cholesterol” and increase your risk of a blockage in your heart or arteries

There are two groups of unsaturated fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These are referred to as the “good fats” and they will be liquid at room temperature.

  • Monounsaturated: olive oil, peanuts and peanut oil, canola oil, avocados
  • Polyunsaturated: vegetable oils, fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

How can I reduce the amount of salt in my diet?

  • Put the salt shaker away, avoid adding extra salt at the kitchen table.
  • If you are using canned vegetables, dump the liquid and do a quick rinse to remove extra salt
  • Limit cured or processed meats
  • Look for the American Heart Association label on food packages

Are there certain things on food labels I should look for to help guide me to heart-healthy food choices?

  • Sodium: foods that have more than 20% of your daily sodium requirements are going to be high in salt. These foods should be limited. Try and choose items that have less than 250mg per serving. Look for “low sodium” or “no added salt” on the label.
  • Saturated fats: look at the percent daily value. Any time you see more than 20% that means there is a lot in the food. Remember, the goal is to limit the calories from saturated fats to 10% or less each day
  • Fiber: fiber is good for your heart and will be listed under the carbohydrates on a food labels. 3g or more per serving will be a good source of fiber.