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Is weight loss always a part of a heart-healthy diet plan?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Usually heart healthy and weight loss go hand in hand. A heart healthy diet is usually low in saturated fats, high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables. It also contains beans and other sources of plant protein. Avoiding refined carbohydrates usually leads to weight loss. However you can still gain weight on a heart healthy diet if you over eat.
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, or are interested in reducing your risk factors for heart disease, adopting and maintaining a heart-healthy diet will be an important part of the work you do toward good health. For many people, a heart-healthy diet will also focus on weight loss: obesity is prevalent in the United States and is a risk factor for heart disease. It can also contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, and other problems. However, not everyone who is working toward heart health will necessarily need to lose weight. 
Therefore, one of the first questions to ask yourself before considering your way of eating is "Do I need to lose weight?" If you are overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can help lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. You can determine your weight-related health risk using a Body Mass Indicator (BMI) Calculator, which determines if your weight-to-height ratio is healthy.
If your weight is already in the normal range, you will still want to substitute less healthy food options with heart-healthy ones such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.