Making heart-healthy food choices doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor. The key is to substitute less healthy foods with fresh produce, whole grains, beans, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy.
Reduce the amount of fat in your dairy. Many dairy products are high in saturated fat. But there are healthier options.
Reduce fat and cholesterol in meat. Try meat substitutes with your meals.
Choose lean meats. They have less fat and are better for your heart. When selecting and cooking lean meats:
Prepare meat as just a part of the meal, rather than the main attraction. For example, stir fry pork with broccoli and serve over brown rice. Along with the meat, you get a serving of vegetable and whole grain.
To cut back on salt, stock your kitchen with low- or no-salt prepared sauces, soups, canned foods, or mixes. Instead of salt, season your food with:
White flour, white rice, and other refined grains have been stripped of their nutrients. You often find them in foods that are high in sugar, sodium, and fat.
Whole grains are loaded with fiber and nutrition. They can help lower cholesterol in your blood and make you feel full longer. As you shop for food, read labels for fat and sugar content. Be on the look out for:
Too much sugar in your diet typically means many calories without many nutrients. To keep your weight in check and your heart healthy, limit the sugar you eat.
Baked Salmon Dijon
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce
Source: Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH, U.S. Health and Human Services.
Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. November 2013.
Gidding SS, Lichtenstein AH, Faith MS, et al. Implementing American Heart Association Pediatric and Adult Nutrition Guidelines A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Council on Cardiovascular Nursing, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Council for High Blood Pressure Research. Circulation. 2009;119(8):1161-1175.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture, 7th edition Washington (DC): US Government Printing Office. 2010.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH, NIH Pub. No. 06-4082.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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