You can lessen your chances for heart disease by improving your diet, according to a SouthCoast Health blog.

“Heart disease is often preventable,” said SouthCoast Health Cardiologist Dr. Roy Flood. “One of the biggest ways to do so is by looking at your daily habits. Ask yourself if what you are doing right now is actively contributing to a healthy lifestyle.”

SouthCoast Health offers a guide on what food to include and what to avoid. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

Foods to include in your diet are:

Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits and veggies are ideal and make sure you pile them on, according to SouthCoast Health. Frozen and canned are good options, but make sure they don’t have added salt or sugars.

Whole grains: Make sure you have fiber-rich whole grain, including whole wheat bread, oats, quinoa or wild rice.

Low-fat dairy: Make sure you are using fat-free, skim or low-fat options.

Poultry and fish: You should shoot for salmon, trout, and herring to get portions of omega-3 fatty acids. Those are great for your heart health but make sure you are preparing them without their skin and added saturated and trans-fats.

Here is what you want to eliminate:

Sugary items-Avoid unnatural sugars if at all possible and make sure you are reading the labels carefully.

Non-water drinks-If at all possible, drink just waters. Sodas, alcohol, and coffee contain hidden calories and sugars. If you drink coffee, limit the amount of creamer and added flavors, and go for alcohol with fewer calories like low-calorie beer or wine.

Lots of sodium-Cutting down on sodium is a key factor for lowering blood pressure and try to go with less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day. You can do this by going for natural foods first and then pre-packaged foods without added salts.

Fats: As SouthCoast Health points out this can be difficult because some fats are good for you, but make sure you are limiting saturated fats and trans fat. Eliminate fatty beef, chicken with skin, butter, cheese and ice cream to cut out saturated fats. Fried foods and baked goods are trans fats.

To learn more about diet and heart disease go to SouthCoast Health’s blog.