A healthy diet includes:

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have important nutrients. They should make up half of your plate at lunch and dinner and be your primary snack choice.
  • Whole grains and whole grain products life whole grain bread, oats, corn, barley, farro, oatmeal, brown and wild rice, and quinoa.
  • Healthy protein sources such as legumes, nuts, fish, seafood, low fat dairy, and lean and unprocessed meat and poultry. 
  • Prioritize proteins that come from plants (beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu) as they have more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein.
  • Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils 
  • Foods prepared with little or no salt
  • Water. Replace sugary drinks with water as your drink of choice. 
  • Limited processed foods
  • Limited added sugars
  • No alcohol (or very limited, if at all). 

Find Heart Healthy Recipes on UHN’s website.

Canada’s Food Guide

Canada’s Food Guide is an eating plan created by Health Canada to help people in Canada make healthy food choices. It is available in different languages. Top tips include:

1. Focus on your plate.

  • Health Canada recommends a plate loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, including risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol. 
  • Dairy is included as a protein. To reduce your saturated fat intake, choose low fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.

2. Eat more plant-based foods.

  • Choose beans, lentils, soy, and nuts more often. The goal to improve heart health is to reduce saturated fat, which comes mostly from animal-based foods such as beef, chicken, and dairy products. 

3. Think “outside of the box.”

  • Choose more whole foods and fewer ultra-processed foods that are loaded with sugar, sodium, and saturated fat.
  • Shop the outside aisles at the grocery store, avoiding inner aisles where the processed foods are located.

4. Drink smart.

  • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, which make up the main source of total sugars in the Canadian diet. Excess sugar is linked to obesity and heart disease. Make water your drink of choice!

5. Be mindful when eating.

  • Cook more often
  • Eat with others
  • Reflect on your eating habits
  • Enjoy your food
  • Be aware of food marketing, which can be misleading.

Healthy Heart Portion Guide

The following guide will help you integrate foods that are low in saturated and trans-fat, high in fibre, and low in sodium into your diet in appropriate portions. Note that the amount of food you need depends on your age, gender, body size, and activity level. 

For more information, speak to your health care provider about referring you to a dietitian.

Portion Size versus Serving Size

According to the National Institutes of Health, portion size and serving size are defined as follows:

  • Portion size is the amount of a specific food that you choose to eat at one time and is completely under your control. Be aware that many foods that come as a single portion contain multiple servings. 
  • Serving size is the amount listed on a food package’s Nutrition Facts Label. The nutrition values on the label are for one serving size, as suggested by the food manufacturer. The Nutrition Facts Label and ingredients list on food packages can help you make informed choices about your diet. 

Listed below are serving sizes for various food groups.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. 

  • Eat 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. 
  • Choose dark green and orange vegetables and orange fruit more often. 
  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. 
  • For more fibre, use fresh fruit and vegetables in place of juices. 

Choose (example of 1 serving): 

  • 125ml (½ cup) fresh or frozen vegetables 
  • 250ml (1 cup) salad 
  • 1 piece of fresh fruit (the size of a tennis ball) 
  • ½ cup mixed fruit 
  • 125ml (½ cup) unsweetened fruit 

Choose less often: 

  • Buttered, creamed, or deep-fried vegetables 
  • Brine-cured or pickled vegetables like sauerkraut 
  • Unsweetened fruit juice 
  • V8 juice 
  • Canned fruits in heavy syrup 
  • Coconut and coconut milk
Dairy and Alternatives

Milk products are an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. 

  • Eat 2-3 servings per day. 
  • Try fortified, unsweetened plant-based beverages if you do not drink milk.

Choose (example of 1 serving): 

  • 250 ml (1 cup) skim or 1% milk 
  • 250 ml (1 cup) calcium-fortified unsweetened plant-based beverage 
  • ¼ cup skim milk powder 
  • 175 g (3/4 cup) fat-free yogurt 

Choose less often: 

  • Whole milk, 2% milk, goat milk, regular cream, light cream, sour cream, and whipping cream 
  • Evaporated whole milk and condensed milk 
  • Yogurt with a M.F. content greater than 2% 
  • Regular ice-cream 
  • Non-dairy substitutes made with coconut oil or hydrogenated oil, such as coconut milk or cream.
Fats and Oils

Fats are a valuable source of essential fatty acids and vitamins. 

  • Choose 6-9 servings each day. 
  • Limit the amount of saturated and trans-fat in your diet. 
  • Unsaturated fats are ‘healthy fats.’ Examples of unsaturated fats include olive, canola, and avocado oil. 
  • Many commercial and processed foods contain hidden fat. Choose these foods less often. 

Choose (example of 1 serving): 

  • 5 ml (1 tsp) of unsaturated fats like canola, olive, and avocado oils
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) margarine that is soft tub, non-hydrogenated, low in saturated fat OR 10 ml (2 tsp) light margarine 
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) salad dressing made with recommended oils OR 30 ml (2 tbsp) calorie reduced salad dressings 
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter  
  • Raw, dry roasted, or in-the-shell nuts (for example: 4 walnut halves, 8 almonds) 
  • 1/6 medium avocado 
  • 7.5 ml (1/2 tbsp) regular mayonnaise and mayonnaise type dressings OR 15 ml (1 tbsp.) light regular mayonnaise and mayonnaise type dressings 

Choose less often: 

  • Butter, hard margarine, lard, suet, hydrogenated oils, palm oil, coconut oil 
  • Salad dressing containing cream cheese and/or bacon 
  • Peanut butter made with hydrogenated oil 
  • Nuts that are roasted in hydrogenated oils, salted, and/or chocolate covered.
Grain Products

Grain products are a source of carbohydrates and dietary fibre. 

  • Eat 6-8 servings per day. 
  • Breads can be high in sodium. Please read the Nutritional Facts table to ensure it is a low sodium choice. 
  • Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day. 
  • Eat a variety of whole grains such as barley, brown rice, oats, and whole grain breads. 

Choose (example of 1 serving): 

  • 1 slice of bread, preferably whole grain 
  • ½ whole-wheat pita 
  • ¼ whole-wheat bagel 
  • ½ chapatti or roti 
  • ½ matza 
  • ½ tortilla 
  • ½ hamburger or kaiser bun, or English muffin 
  • 250mL (1 cup) homemade soups made with beans, lentils, barley, and vegetables 
  • 2-4 whole-wheat, low-fat crackers (check the serving size) 
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) starchy vegetables: corn, sweet potato, yam, cassava 
  • 1 small or ½ medium potato 
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) cooked brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, macaroni, noodles, kasha, barley, bulgur, quinoa 
  • For cereals, check the Nutrition Facts Label and choose items with more than 15% daily value of fibre and less than 5% daily values of sodium: 
    • 80ml (1/3 cup) Bran Buds with Psyllium 
    • 190ml (3/4 cup) cooked oatmeal 
    • 175ml (2/3 cup) Shredded Wheat 
    • 125 mL (1/2 cup) Kellogg’s All Bran 

Choose less often: 

  • Salted or high-fat crackers, egg bread, cheese rolls, croissants 
  • Commercial cakes and cookies, store-bought muffins, doughnuts, Danishes, waffles, pancakes 
  • Potato chips, corn chips 
  • Canned soups and dehydrated soup mixes 
  • Frozen French fries 
  • Rice and pasta convenience products (such as Kraft Dinner), egg pasta, fried noodles.
Meat and Alternatives

Protein foods, including meat and plant-based proteins, are an important part of healthy eating.

  • Eat 2-3 servings per day. 
  • One serving of meat, fish, or chicken is about 3 ounces (90 g) cooked. 
  • Cheese is high in sodium. Read the Nutritional Facts Label of cheese products before you buy them. 
  • Have plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas often. 

Choose (example of 1 serving): 

  • Fresh, frozen, and canned low-sodium fish packed in water 
  • 90 g poultry. Choose lean ground chicken or turkey when possible.
  • 90 g lean cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork, rabbit, or venison. Choose extra-lean ground beef when possible.
  • 50 g of 15% M.F. cheese, low sodium 
  • 2 eggs OR 4 egg whites OR 125 ml (1/2 cup) liquid egg whites 
  • 150 mg (3/4 cup) firm tofu  
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) cooked lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, navy beans, kidney beans 

Choose less often: 

  • Canned fish soaked in oil 
  • Battered, fried, creamed, smoked, salted, or pickled fish, caviar, and squid 
  • Duck, goose, poultry skin, basted poultry 
  • Luncheon meat, back bacon, ham, sausages, wieners 
  • Organ meats, spareribs 
  • Processed cheese, full-fat cheese, cheese spreads.
Portion Sizes

Food portions are increasing. Larger portions might mean that you are eating more and gaining weight. Here are some ways you can eat and serve smaller portions.

At home:

  • Plate the suggested serving size for each person (children, teenagers, and adults) and put away the extra food for another meal
  • If you are still hungry, have extra salad or vegetables instead of extra dairy, grains, or meat
  • Pack up leftovers for lunch the next day

When eating out: 

  • Skip or share the appetizers
  • Split the main dish with your companion 
  • Put half of your plate in a to-go container for the next day’s lunch or dinner before you begin eating
  • Order a mini dessert or share a dessert
  • Avoid refills of sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, iced tea, and lemonade OR stick to water

When ordering takeout:

  • Order less
  • Add a homemade salad to the meal


  • Measure out the amount according to the serving size instead of eating straight from the bag or box.
  • Avoiding buying snacks such as cookies, chips, ice cream, store-bought muffins, and cake
  • Have healthy snacks, such as fruit, in plain sight


  • Buying in bulk may be budget friendly, but is not serving size friendly
  • Use small reusable containers/bags to repackage your snacks according to the serving size
  • Re-package bulk purchases into small portions before freezing them.

It is easy to overeat when you are not paying attention. Don’t eat while watching tv, reading or on your computer

Using a food diary for a few days can help you pay closer attention to what, how much, and how often you are eating.