First, take a peek inside your refrigerator and pantry. Look at the expiration or “best used by” dates on food packages. Foods kept past their expiration dates can degrade in quality, and items such as butter and oils can go bad.
What to Stock Up On
Diets rich in high-fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whole Grains. Whole grains contain essential vitamins and dietary fiber. Whole-grain foods high in fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, rice and barley. How do you know if you’re getting what you need? Check the label. “Whole grain” should be the first ingredient.
Fruits and Vegetables. Low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, fruits and veggies are nutritious, filling foods. Whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned or dried, they’re a delicious must-have for your diet.
Leaner Is Better. Making lean choices will help you maintain a heart-healthy diet. Consider skinless chicken and turkey, fish, shellfish and lean cuts of beef such as round, sirloin, chuck and loin. Beans and soy products such as tofu are good meat substitutes.
Healthier Fats. Fats play an important role in your diet, but it’s important to choose the right kinds. Choose oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil or olive oil, and use soft margarines with no trans fats. Try to steer clear of saturated and trans fats, which are often found in mayonnaise, chips, cookies, packaged muffins, snack cakes and crackers.
Salt. Most of the sodium (salt) in our diet comes from prepared food. Eating too much salt increases your risk of developing high blood pressure (a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke) and raises it in those who have it. When buying prepared and prepackaged foods, be sure and read the labels first. Watch for the words “soda” and “sodium” in the ingredient statement. Choose lower-sodium products. Aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day – that’s about one teaspoon of table salt.
To find heart-healthy foods in the grocery store, start by making your grocery list online. Visit www.heartcheckmark.org to build your list from approximately 800 products ranging from meat and dairy to vegetables and snacks, all certified by the American Heart Association to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Print your list or access it from your Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA. For more nutrition information, visit www.americanheart.org/nutrition.
You can snack healthier by making some simple changes. Instead of regular potato or corn chips, enjoy baked chips or soy crisps (reduced sodium). Instead of devil’s food cake, try angel food cake. Instead of ice cream bars, satsify your sweet tooth with frozen fruit bars. Instead of pudding made with whole milk, consider pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk. And instead of ice cream, make your dessert choice a sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or (1-percent) low-fat yogurt.
– Courtesy of Family Features