|Top 10 tips for heart-smart eating|
Top 10 tips for heart-smart eating
By Cara Rosenbloom, RD
Choosing better-for-you foods and using heart-smart cooking techniques can help you control risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. Here are 10 ways to be good to your heart.
- Cook heart-smart. Choose cooking methods that use less salt and calorie-laden fat. Steam, bake, broil or grill instead of frying. Reduce salt by avoiding bouillon or salty broth (use water instead); add lots of herbs and spices to enhance flavour.
TRY: Making your own salad dressing and sauces.
- Choose whole grains. The fibre in whole grains like oats, quinoa, whole wheat and barley can help lower blood pressure. People who eat more whole grains have a 29 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who don’t. Aim for 3-4 servings each day.
TRY: No-stir barley risotto.
- Nix trans fat. Linked to clogged arteries and high cholesterol, trans fat is a no-no for happy hearts. Even a small amount is harmful. While the use of hydrogenated oil with trans fat has declined, it may still be found in some cookies, crackers and baked goods.
TRY: Reading Nutrition Facts labels and only choosing items with no trans fat.
- Control your portions. The amount we eat has increased over the past two decades. Choosing smaller portions can help limit calorie intake, which helps with weight control; being overweight is linked with heart disease.
TRY: Using smaller plates and bowls.
- Cut back on sodium. More than 70% of Canadian adults exceed their upper limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which raises the risk of high blood pressure. And more than three-quarters of that sodium comes from packaged foods.
TRY: Cooking from scratch more often and comparing Nutrition Facts panels to choose products with less sodium.
- Max out vegetables and fruit. With their heart-healthy combo of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, getting at least six daily servings of vegetables and fruit is a winning idea.
TRY: Starting meals with salad, snacking on fruit, and filling half your plate with vegetable side dishes.
- Eat more beans. Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils are high in cholesterol-lowering fibre.
TRY: Adding chickpeas or navy beans to salad, pasta and soup; throwing some in a blender with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice for homemade hummus; having edamame as an appetizer.
TRY: Red beans and rice or Baked chickpea patties.
- Cook from scratch. When you control what goes into your food, you can cook with less salt, sugar and fat, and add more vegetables and whole grains.
TRY: Heart and Stroke Foundation recipes to get started.
- Drink skim milk: Since getting two or three daily servings of low fat dairy products can help reduce blood pressure levels, it’s important to have milk and yogurt in your diet.
TRY: Sticking with low-fat options such as skim or 1% milk and yogurt.
- Enjoy fish more often: The healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat found in fish may help decrease blood pressure and triglyceride levels, which helps lower heart disease risk. Aim for 2-3 servings (75 g) of omega-3-rich salmon, tuna, trout, sardines or mackerel each week.
TRY: Enjoying salmon or tuna sandwiches or sushi, or Orange glazed salmon.
Posted: February 2012