There is nothing quite like a delicious, home-cooked meal. But for that meal to be nutritious, it should be prepared using heart healthy foods. Not sure what makes food good or bad for your heart? Foods like whole-grains, fish that is high in omega-3 fats, and fruits like berries that are full of anti-oxidants are all great choices.
Before your next trip to the grocery store, plan out your menu first and stick to the outsides of the grocery store where the fresh foods are kept. When planning your menu, use these tips to guide you to the heart healthy foods.
Heart Healthy Food Choices
- Look for fruits and vegetables to focus your meals around. Fruits like berries, apples, and bananas are great for your heart as are vegetables like dark, leafy greens or tomatoes.
- If you are looking for canned vegetables and fruits, select ones that do not have salt added or are packed in water or natural juices.
- Choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk and cheeses when purchasing your dairy products.
- When planning your menu, swap out one meat dish for one fish dish a week. But be sure to avoid cream sauces when preparing your food.
- Trade a bag of cinnamon raisin bagels for 100% whole grain English Muffins with natural peanut butter for a quick breakfast.
- Avoid cooking oils that are high in saturated fat such as coconut oil and use more monounsaturated oils such as olive or canola oil.
Read Nutritional Labels
- Make note of the serving size compared to how much you would normally eat. You may need to double or even triple the Percent Daily Value (PDV), calories, and nutrients to get an accurate view of your real consumption.
- Look closely at your daily intake of nutrients. Be sure to get your daily value of fiber, vitamins, and other essential nutrients every day.
- Look closely at your daily fat consumption. The PDV should be 5% or less if you are aiming to keep your weight in check. By checking the labels you will have a much more accurate picture.
General Shopping Guidelines
- “Fat-Free” labels mean that the food contains the least amount of fat possible.
- “Very Low” labels mean the food contains a higher percentage than food labeled “free”, but it is still a low PDV.
- “Reduced” or “Less” contains 25% less of a substance than the regular product.
Maintaining a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is important for a strong heart. If you think you are at risk for high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about a screening or look for classes like Crittenton’s 1-Stop Screening. For more nutritional advice, contact Crittenton Nutrition Counseling Center.