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Browsing the aisles of the grocery store? There are simple steps you can take to look out for your heart health.  

Fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, lean meats, beans, and nuts are easy picks. You already know they’re great for you.

But when you’re buying packaged foods, you’ll want to check the nutrition label to know what you’re getting. Pay special attention to these things:

Serving size. It may be smaller than you think. If your serving is bigger, you’ll get more calories, fat, salt, and anything else that’s in the item.

You’ll also see percentages on the label. Those show you what percentage you get of your daily recommended amount, called your “Daily Value” or “DV,” from a serving. For example, it might say one serving will give you 40% of the salt you can get in an entire day, so you can limit salt for the rest of the day.

Keep in mind that the Daily Value is based on you getting 2,000 calories a day. That’s more than many people need, especially women or those trying to lose weight. So you may need to adjust for the number of calories you actually eat.

Fat. All fat is not the same. Some types, like the omega-3s in salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are good for you. Others will clog up your arteries, which can make a heart attack more likely. So when you check the label, you need to know what you’re looking at when it comes to fat.

Nutrition labels break out saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat. If a food is high in fat but it is mostly unsaturated fat, it can still be good for you.

Still, you need to limit fats, even the ones that are good for you:

  • All fat should account for no more 35% of your daily calories.
  • Saturated fat (found in animal products) should make up less than 10%.
  • Avoid trans fat. Some items that say they are “trans fat free” can still have up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So check the ingredients list for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which are trans fats.