Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Kristina Adams Smith, Registered Dietitian with Sliced Right Nutrition states that whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet there are ways to make heart healthy choices. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.
Focus on Fiber!
High fiber foods help to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol
People who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Those who eat fruits and vegetables consistently have lower risk of stroke.
• Keep fruit bowl in sight on counter at home and even at work
• Add more vegetables to entrees at home, such as meat loaf, casseroles and soups
• Keep plenty of vegetables cut up and ready to eat in refrigerator, ready to grab for snacks
Replace refined grains, which are low in fiber, with whole grains.
• Choose high fiber breakfast cereals – about 5 grams per serving or more
• Substitute white bread for a whole grain bread or brown rice for white rice
• Choose whole grain flour when baking vs bleached all-purpose flour
Cut out saturated fats and trans fats
Of all the diet changes you can make this is possibly the most important. Both types of fats raise LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which increases risk for heart attack and stroke. Trans fat can even lower HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
• Limit solid fat – butter, margarine, shortening
• Substitute – choose more lower fat food or healthy fats – canola, olive or safflower oils; use 2 egg whites in place of one whole egg
• Read labels for ‘partially hydrogenated’, which means there are trans fat
• Change habits gradually – make snacks more healthy, cook with pan sprays instead of oils or butter; when ordering out, ask for condiments on the side
High salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. AHA recommends no more than one teaspoon of salt per day for an adult.
• Reduce the use of canned foods or processed foods – frozen dinners
• Don’t use salt when cooking, use spices instead
• Look for labels with reduced or low sodium
Manage portion sizes, manage weight
Excess weight means your heart must work harder and often leads to high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease.
• Know what serving sizes are and start to measure foods
• Read labels for more information
• Beware of eating out and portion sizes – share meals
Heart healthy home cooking
It is difficult to eat right for your heart when eating out a lot, so learn to make quick, heart healthy meals at home.
• Look for AHA check mark on labels
• Make healthy substitutes – choose 1 percent milk vs whole milk
• Invest in heart healthy cookbooks or magazines for new recipes
• Cook 2x – eat for week; portion size meals into reusable containers to have all week long
• Heart healthy cooking methods – bake, broil, steam, roast, poach, lightly stir fry or sauté
For more information on healthy meal planning and preparation contact registered dietitian, Kristina Adams Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org