How to Fix Yourself a Heart Healthy Meal
Eating heart healthy may not be as hard as you think. In fact, all it really comes down to is making smarter choices.
With some exclusive tips from one of our lead dietitians, here are some foods you should try to include on your plate when it comes to preparing a heart healthy meal.
1. Choose Your Fats Wisely
“If you are trying to eat more heart healthy, it’s important that you monitor your saturated fat intake and avoid trans fats,” says Sarah Hallenberger, a registered dietitian and one of the lead dietitians for bistroMD.
When it comes time to cook, Sarah recommends using oils with unsaturated fats. Vegetable oils like canola, olive, and peanut are all flavorful, but also heart healthy.
A heart healthy meal is also nutritionally balanced, so choosing foods that contain the right kinds of fats is also important. Red meats like beef and pork contain more saturated fat and more cholesterol. Instead, opt for lean chicken breast or fish, and prepare more vegetables as healthy sides.
“Certain fish, like salmon and tilapia, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health,” says Sarah. “Not only can they help decrease your blood pressure, but a diet rich in omega-3’s has been shown to reduce the risk of triglyceride levels that can lead to serious cardiac conditions.”
2. Heart-Healthy Preparation
When preparing these foods, season with other alternatives, and give the salt shaker a rest. Ideally, you want to stock your pantry with more “natural” seasonings. Usually, a majority of these natural brand seasonings are lower in sodium, and don’t contain as many additives, like MSG.
Garlic is a healthier seasoning, and if you like to prepare things a little spicier, use cayenne pepper, paprika, or just use fresh peppers or onions.
You don’t always have to choose natural brands, and if there is a certain brand of seasoning you like, just make sure you purchase the salt-free version instead.
3. Eat Your Veggies
It’s no secret that eating your vegetables is healthy, but certain kinds of vegetables should be an essential part of any heart healthy meal.
Go for veggies that are high in dietary fiber, like spinach and broccoli. Avoid fried vegetables as they are likely to contain trans fats. Instead, skip the salt when it comes to preparing your veggies and go with other alternatives.
Sautéing your veggies in a canola or olive oil can bring out the natural flavors without overpowering your palette.
4. Don’t Forget the Grains
In order to have a complete heart healthy meal, you can’t neglect whole grains. Whole grains are great sources of fiber and contain other nutrients that help regulate blood pressure.
“Other than choosing refined grains, you can opt for other simple substitutions,” says Sarah. “Ground flax seeds are tiny, but they are high in fiber and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. For a great addition to any snack or dessert, you can add in a little ground flaxseed to things like yogurt.”
Here are some ideas for some heart healthy recipes for two, courtesy of Eating Well Magazine.
For more tips from our experts, please visit our health library for more information.