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The best—and worst—foods for your heart

Most adults don’t need anyone to tell them that a snack of chips (even the low-salt, low-fat or fake-fat kind) will never measure up to an apple when it comes to keeping the doctor away. As for other foods—your basic meat-and-potatoes meal, for example—the facts are less clear, leaving people to wonder if they’re really serving up the best variety for heart health.

Even the focus on fat is perhaps not as sharp as it should be. The American Heart Association’s 2006 Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations advise that total fat intake should be about 25 percent to 35 percent of daily calories, with no more than 7 percent coming from saturated fat. However, the AHA points out that the guideline applies to total calories eaten per day, not to individual foods or recipes. Applying the standard to single foods greatly limits the variety of foods in the diet and can be misleading.

Be that as it may, certain foods—like a macaroni and cheese dinner—will quickly take you over the top of your dietary limits.

Still confused? We’ve prepared a comprehensive chart that lets you see at a glance which foods you should eat more of, which ones to eat moderately and which ones to eat minimally. Refer to it each time you prepare a snack or meal, and rest assured you’ll be doing your heart good!