3 Easy Steps to Heart-Healthy Eating
Your heart health is important; heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. However, small changes can make a big impact. What you eat can improve several of your heart disease risk factors, and eating heart-healthy is easier than you think.
1. Choose the Right Foods
- Fruits and vegetable provide plenty of nutrients without a lot of calories.
- Whole grains are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and nutrients.
- Lean proteins, like fish, skinless chicken and beans give you nutrition with less fat.
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy provides nutrients with less fat.
- Healthy fats, or unsaturated fats, like olive oil, nuts and fish are good for you in small amounts.
2. Read Food Labels When Shopping
- Look for products that are high in fiber and protein, low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
- Avoid products that contain trans fat.
- Pay attention to serving size. If you plan to eat two servings, double the numbers.
- Look at these three areas on the nutrtition label.
3. Prepare Food Right
A key part of healthy cooking is curbing added fat and salt. Look online for lower-fat, lower-sodium recipes, and try these tips:
- Remove fat from meat and skin from poultry before cooking.
- Skim fat from the surface of soups and sauces.
- Broil, boil, bake, steam or grill food.
- Choose ingredients that spice up your food without adding calories, fat or sodium. Try horseradish, hot sauce, lemon, mustard, vinegar, basil, cilantro, cinnamon, pepper and rosemary.
Change a few things at a time and let yourself get used to changes before adding more.
- Limit saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats, in foods like fatty meats, whole milk, cheese, and palm and coconut oils, raise your cholesterol. Trans fats, often in processed foods, lower good cholesterol and raise bad.
- Reduce sodium intake. Eating too much salt may increase your blood pressure. Dining out less and eating fewer processed foods are great ways to reduce salt intake.
- Manage calories. If you eat more calories than your body burns, the extras are stored as fat. Eating healthier and exercising regularly can help you manage your calories and reduce your risk for heart disease. At meals, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and half with whole grains and lean protein.
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