Heart health is a major issue concerning Americans. Unfortunately, we are bombarded, everyday, by fast food restaurants and take out menus that don’t offer a real heart-health savvy option. However, there a few little things you can be doing to revamp your family’s eating habits at home. These tricks will profoundly effect the health of your loved ones, as well as, help you make smarter choices when deciding on meals.
The American Heart Association suggests these tips for a more healthy heart:
- Each a diet rich in fruits and veggies.
- Choose whole grains and high fiber foods.
- Eat fish at least twice a week (specifically fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, herring and macharel).
- When eating meats, choose lean meats and vegetarian foods in limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 7% of calories, trans fat less than 1%, and cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day.
- Limit sugary drinks and foods with added sugars.
- Prepare foods with little to no salt; less than about 1 teaspoon a day.
While all of this tips are great, this kind of change can be easier said than done, because you may not know exactly how and what to change. Therefore, we have prepared a list of seven “kitchen makeover” aides to follow that will make you just a few steps closer to a healthier lifestyle.
1.) Lose the bad cooking oils like shortening, butter, palm oil and coconut oil. These types of oils contain high percentage of trans fat or saturated fats. Instead switch to cooking oils such as Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Safflower, Sunflower, Soybean and Flaxseed. These have the least amount of saturated fats and trans fats and have the most healthful fats in them.
2.) If you must cook with margarine, use margarine that has less fat than butter (around 8 grams of fat per tablespoon), with as little saturated fat as possible (2 grams or less per tablespoon) and no trans fat. Healthier margarine will contain monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat and maybe have omega-3 fats.
3.) Lose the pantry junk foods! Get rid of the foods in your pantry that have no nutritional value (meaning no fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins) and with high levels of fat, sodium and sugar.
4.) Take all junk out of your refrigerator and freezer! See Tip #3.
5.) Try to lose some of those typical foods and condiments that carry a “red flag” like mayonnaise, bacon, whipped cream, cheese and butter! It is an easy way to cut calories and fat, as well as, cholesterol.
6.) After losing the fridge and freezer junk, replace it with must-have heart-smart foods. Make sure that there are plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables and whole-grain products stocked up in your fridge. Also, fresh and frozen fish, lean meat and vegetarian meat like veggie burgers, low-fat dairy products, 1% of skim milk, egg substitute, and/or sugar-free beverages.
7.) Be aware of directions and instructions on food packages. Find ways to customize recipes to lower fat, calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. You can substitute ingredients with healthier choices. For example, fat-free sour cream can be used in cream pasta product and low-fat yogurt can be used in muffin mix.
You can instantly improve your health by following some of these simple tricks. A heart-healthy lifestyle is possible by merely educating yourself about smarter choices at the checkout line. So do yourself a favor and makeover your kitchen…your heart will thank you for it later!
For more information on ways to prevent heart disease, click here.