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The Promise

The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise, which hit the best-seller list in 1979, is the granddaddy of diet books.

Its ideas -- that eating low-fat, high-fiber foods and getting regular exercise can stave off or even reverse heart disease and help people stay at a healthy weight -- were considered downright shocking.

Now, those ideas are considered standard.

Does It Work?

Yes. A Washington University School of Medicine study found that the Pritikin Program lowers many risk factors for heart disease, including weight (measured by body mass index, or BMI) and blood pressure. Other studies have shown the same thing.

What You Can Eat

There are 10 simple steps to The Pritikin Edge.

  1. Start each meal with soup, salad, fruit, or whole grains. They fill you up, so you're less likely to eat high-fat, high-calorie food.
  2. No more high-calorie drinks, especially soda. A daily glass of wine can be good for the heart, but skip most alcoholic beverages.
  3. Avoid high-calorie foods.
  4. Snack at set times and only on healthy foods.
  5. Choose whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible, and always avoid fast food.
  6. Exercise regularly, combining lots of walking with strength training.
  7. Go easy on meat, especially red meat. Instead, opt for fatty fish like salmon.
  8. Skip extra salt.
  9. Don’t smoke.
  10. Ease stress.

The overall diet is low in fat and high in fiber. The recommended foods are fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and fish.

Items to minimize include oils, refined sugars, salt, and refined grains. The plan recommends avoiding processed meats, foods high in saturated fat and those made with trans fat, and high-cholesterol foods like eggs.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...