|Shake up your lunch|
Shake up your lunch
By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
Yawn. Your ham, cheese and tomato sandwich on white bread is tired. Sure, your lunch contains all four food groups and will help keep you full between breakfast and dinner, but is it inspiring? Does it nourish your heart? Lunch should do that.
Make it vs. take-out
Toting lunch from home is a great way to save money and use fewer environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam or plastic containers. But most importantly, it’s the best way to control what goes into your lunch bag, and ultimately what goes into your body.
If take-out is your only option, take note: with a bit of knowledge you can make healthy choices using the same heart-smart ingredients that you’d prepare at home. There are certain foods that you can pick − or pack − that are both heart-healthy and delicious. Consider some of these options:
From home: Salmon BLT or Tuna tabbouleh salad; soy nuts; banana-
Take-out: Japanese food: Tuna and salmon sushi; edamame; avocado salad
Why it’s heart healthy: Oily fish such as tuna and salmon are chock-full of omega-3 fats, which can help lower triglyceride and blood pressure levels. When these levels are controlled, your risk of heart disease declines. Soy-based foods such as edamame and soy nuts provide a modest reduction in LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and also provide high concentrations of other vitamins and minerals.
From home: Turkey and bean rice wrap; grapes
Take-out: Middle Eastern or Greek food: Hummus with whole-grain pita; chicken kabob; grilled vegetables
Why it’s heart healthy: Black beans and chickpeas (in the hummus) are high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre. Chicken and turkey are low in saturated fat but rich in protein, which helps make you feel full and snack less. That can help reduce the likelihood of weight gain, another risk factor for heart disease.
From home: Ginger beef broccoli salad, whole grain roll; orange
Take-out: From the deli: turkey on whole-grain bread; cole slaw with vinaigrette; apple
Why it’s heart healthy: A high intake of whole grains such as oats can help lower certain heart disease risk factors, including LDL “bad” cholesterol. Look for whole-grain bread that includes oats. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables is also associated with a decreased risk of developing heart disease − for each additional serving of fruit and vegetables you eat a day, your risk of heart disease decreases by four percent.
Whether you dine in, take out or carry along, lunch should always have a beverage, too. Water is your best bet for staying hydrated without packing on the extra calories found in pop and other sweet beverages. Unsweetened coffee, tea and skim milk are other good options.
On the run
It’s important to make time for lunch. But, with hectic schedules and unavoidable crises, some days are too busy to stop. When you’re late for a meeting and don’t have time for a complete lunch, reach for one of these snacks to hold you over until you can have a proper meal. These options are much better than chips or candy:
From home: Low-fat yogurt
Take-out: From a coffee shop: skim milk latte
Why it’s heart healthy: Low-fat dairy products contain a blood pressure-lowering combination of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
From home: Handful of unsalted almonds
Take-out: From a convenience store: Unsalted mixed nuts
Why it’s heart healthy: Enjoying 50 mL (¼ cup) of nuts about four times per week can lower heart disease risk by up to 37 percent.
Posted: September 2011