Using the Heart-Check Mark with Your Clients or Patients

Updated:Dec 13,2016

Your clients/patients want fast, easy solutions for eating healthy. They may ask you which foods are better choices. The Heart-Check mark helps eliminate the guesswork and guides them toward foods that meet the nutrition requirements for certification. It’s one of many useful resources offered by the American Heart Association.  

Your clients/patients trust your nutrition guidance, and, as always, you can trust the American Heart Association as your go-to source for matters related to heart health. You are the key to showing your clients/patients how to take the first step to improve their eating habits.

By combining the Heart-Check mark with your expert guidance, even small changes can result in improvements in heart health for your clients/patients. The Heart-Check mark is a powerful tool to keep them motivated to succeed.

Getting Practical with the Heart-Check mark
Incorporate the Heart-Check handouts and teaching activities into conversations with your clients/patients to get them started on the path to healthier eating.

Heart-Check Handouts

My Action Plan for Heart Health

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: As a health professional, you know that making a plan goes a long way to achieving success, in this case adopting healthy behaviors. The “My action plan for heart health” handout in this toolkit can help facilitate the discussion about goal-setting between you and your clients/patients. The exercise will help jump-start their efforts by identifying action steps they can take to develop healthier eating habits. We recommend starting with easy short-term goals — for example, ask them to crunch on certified nuts instead of chips. Once they’re on a roll and start gaining confidence, have them work up to longer-term goals, like getting sodium intake down to less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: When reviewing daily food records kept by your clients/patients, use examples of Heart-Check certified foods to demonstrate good alternatives. The list of heart-healthy certified foods is updated regularly. Incorporate these food changes into their “My Action Plan for Heart Health” handout so that changes can be implemented over time rather than all at once.
  • RESOURCE: With My Life Check, available free at heart.org/mylifecheck, your clients/patients can receive a personalized heart assessment and customized life plan that identifies seven goals for a heart-healthy lifestyle.

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: As a health professional, you know that making a plan goes a long way to achieving success, in this case adopting healthy behaviors. The “My action plan for heart health” handout in this toolkit can help facilitate the discussion about goal-setting between you and your clients/patients. The exercise will help jump-start their efforts by identifying action steps they can take to develop healthier eating habits. We recommend starting with easy short-term goals — for example, ask them to crunch on certified nuts instead of chips. Once they’re on a roll and start gaining confidence, have them work up to longer-term goals, like getting sodium intake down to less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: When reviewing daily food records kept by your clients/patients, use examples of Heart-Check certified foods to demonstrate good alternatives. The list of heart-healthy certified foods is updated regularly. Incorporate these food changes into their “My Action Plan for Heart Health” handout so that changes can be implemented over time rather than all at once.
  • RESOURCE: With My Life Check, available free at heart.org/mylifecheck, your clients/patients can receive a personalized heart assessment and customized life plan that identifies seven goals for a heart-healthy lifestyle.

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: Healthy eating is simpler for clients/patients who know how easy it is to find the well-known Heart-Check mark. Use the handout “Start Eating Better with the Heart-Check Mark” to explain what the Heart-Check mark is and how they can use it.
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: Purchase a couple of certified foods to show your clients/patients what the Heart-Check mark looks like on a product. Point out that the Heart-Check is usually on the front or back, but can appear anywhere on the package or label. The nutrients included in certification are total fats, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of a beneficial nutrient, and other nutrients based on certification category.
  • RESOURCE: The list of certified products includes hundreds of foods, and eating out is a whole lot easier with Heart-Check’s new meal certification program.

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: Even your most health-conscious clients/patients can let their good intentions give way to temptation when confronted with the supermarket smorgasbord. The best prevention is a grocery list.
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: Help your clients/patients develop a week’s grocery list by selecting healthy options from each food category using the handout “Shopping for Heart-healthy Foods Made Easy” and the list of Heart-Check certified foods. Developing shopping lists by categories can help your clients/patients avoid feeling overwhelmed. Depending on your client/patient, you may want to work with them on their grocery list one food category at a time if you have multiple counseling sessions with them.
  • RESOURCE: Show your clients/patients how to access the online list of Heart-Check certified foods. They can search for favorite brands and find certified brands within specific food categories.

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: Help your clients/patients explore new ways to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets using the handout “Fun, Easy and Delicious Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.”
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: Find pictures in food magazines of delicious-looking dishes that feature fruits and vegetables. Use these to start a discussion with your clients/patients about simple and delicious ways to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets. You can also have a few heart-healthy cookbooks available to flip through with your clients/patients. It may inspire new ideas for making fruit- or vegetable-based dishes. Get their commitment verbally or in writing to add one more fruit and vegetable every day for a week. In a group setting, ask participants to share how they’re willing to do this.
  • RESOURCE: Offer your clients/patients this list of storage tips to help keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer.

  • PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: Let your clients/patients know that making delicious and heart-healthy meals can be easy and fast. Use the handout “Quick and Easy Meals” to help your clients/patients create meals they’ll want to eat. Also pass along the “Quick and Easy Cooking Methods” handout to show them how to do it.
  • TEACHING ACTIVITY: Let your clients/patients know they can make many of their favorite recipes healthier using these heart-smart substitutions. When they shop for healthy substitutions, remind them to look for foods with the Heart-Check mark.
  • RESOURCE: Tell your clients/patients about the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking and Recipes website, which offers dozens of healthy and easy recipes. Each recipe also includes a preparation video.

Action Steps

  • Teach clients/patients how to take advantage of the Heart-Check mark by using the resources and teaching activities detailed on this page.
     
  • Take a look at the list of Heart-Check certified foods and jot down a few that you plan to buy during your next shopping trip. Try it for yourself so you can recommend certified foods based on experience.
     
  • Let clients/patients know about the variety of product categories in which they will find the Heart-Check mark. Tell them how to look for heart-healthy foods throughout the grocery store and encourage them to try something new.
     
  • Share with your clients/patients that the Heart-Check mark simplifies the process of interpreting the Nutrition Facts label because it represents a “bundling” of criteria. This usually includes total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and beneficial nutrients, which are all important in determining if a food can be part of a healthy diet.
     
  • Share how you use the Heart-Check mark in your practice or in the community. Use hashtag #HeartCheckMark on Twitter or post a comment on our Facebook page.

Heart-Check Mark for Health Professionals