A heart-healthy diet contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein and limits foods that are high in fat (especially saturated and trans) and sodium. While all foods can fit (in the right size portions) into a heart-healthy diet, some sides are better options than others. When it comes to potatoes, French fries and potato chips generally have large amounts of added fat because they are usually deep-fried; and mashed potatoes are usually prepared with butter and cream, making them high in saturated fat. Instead, try a baked sweet potato or baked potato, and ask for the toppings on the side. This way, you can control how much butter and sour cream go on your potato.
Other side options that aren’t the best choices for those following heart-healthy diets include macaroni and cheese, potato and pasta salad, and any other salad that is laden with creamy dressing and fattening meats (such as bacon), which are generally high in saturated fat and sodium. Some healthy alternatives include whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, steamed vegetables or fresh fruit.