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Heart Healthy Food Selections When Dining Out

March 2008

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Do you eat out often? Here are suggestions from the American Heart Association about foods you can order when dining in or out. These are just suggestions and a sample of foods that fit a heart healthy diet. Start today making better food choices and you are on your way to a healthier lifestyle.


  • Fresh fruit or small glass of citrus juice
  • Whole grain bread, bagel or English muffin with jelly or honey
  • Whole grain cereal with lowfat (1%) or fat free milk
  • Hot cereal (oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, hominy) with nonfat milk topped with fruit
  • Omelet made with egg whites or egg substitute
  • Multigrain pancakes
  • Nonfat yogurt (try adding cereal or fresh fruit)


  • Water with lemon
  • Flavored sparkling water (non-caloric)
  • Milk, fat free or low fat (1%)
  • 100% fruit juice, regular or low calorie
  • Juice spritzer (half fruit juice and half sparkling water)
  • Tomato juice (reduced sodium)
  • Lemonade
  • Iced Tea or Hot Tea
  • Coffee or Iced Coffee with lowfat milk


Most bread and breadsticks are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. The saturated fat and cholesterol can add up when you add butter, margarine or olive oil on your bread.


On the Heart Healthy Diet, eat no more than 4 ounces of shrimp and other shellfish to limit your daily intake of cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams
  • Shrimp* cocktail (limit cocktail sauce - it’s high in sodium)
  • Melons or fresh fruit
  • Fruit cup
  • Bean or broth-based soups
  • Salad with reduced fat dressing (or add lemon juice or vinegar)
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Raw vegetables with lowfat dip or salsa
  • Pita bread with hummus or low-fat black bean dip


On the Heart Healthy Diet, eat no more than 4 ounces of shrimp and other shellfish to limit your daily intake of cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams
  • Poultry, fish, and shellfish* are healthy choices
  • Vegetarian dishes with pasta, rice and other grains, beans, and lowfat sauces
  • Pasta with red sauce or with vegetables (primavera)
  • Look for terms like baked, broiled, steamed, poached, lightly sauteed or stir-fried
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side
  • Limit the amount of butter, margarine, and salt you use at the table.


  • Fresh greens, lettuce and spinach
  • Fresh vegetables - tomato, mushroom, carrots, cucumber, peppers, broccoli
  • Beans, chick peas and kidney beans
  • Skip the non-vegetable choices: deli meats, bacon, egg, cheese, croutons
  • Choose lower calorie, reduced fat or fat free dressing, lemon juice, or vinegar


  • Vegetables and starches (e.g., rice, potato, noodles) make good additions to meals and can also be combined for a lower saturated fat and cholesterol alternative to a higher saturated fat and cholesterol entrees.
  • Ask for side dishes without butter or margarine.
  • Ask for mustard, salsa or lowfat yogurt instead of sour cream or butter.


  • Fresh fruit
  • Lowfat or nonfat frozen yogurt
  • Sherbet or fruit sorbet (these are usually fat-free and cholesterol-free)
  • Angel food cake
  • Fat free cheesecake
  • Try sharing a dessert.
  • Ask for lowfat milk for your coffee (instead of cream or half-n-half).