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April 2020

Menu Planning? Try These 5 Heart-Smart Substitutions

The foods we eat play a big role in keeping our hearts healthy. Here’s how to put a healthier lifestyle into practice at your dining table:

Choice 1: Opt for seafood, such as fish, instead of red meat

Red meat is often high in saturated fat, which raises LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. On the other hand, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon, can help reduce the risk for heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke. Aim for about 8 ounces of nonfried seafood per week, which can help reduce the risk of dying of heart disease.

Choice 2: Season food with herbs and spices, rather than salt

Eating too much sodium ups the chances of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. People with elevated or high blood pressure should eat only 1,500 milligrams (mg) or less of sodium a day. Other adults should aim for less than 2,300 mg. This is the amount contained in about 1 teaspoon of table salt.

Choice 3: Steer clear of processed foods, which are high in sodium

Instead, include fresh poultry, seafood, and vegetables. And enjoy potassium-rich foods, such as spinach, bananas, kidney beans, and sweet potatoes. While sodium can raise blood pressure, potassium helps lower it.

Choice 4: Cook with liquid vegetable oil

Use vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening, which are high in saturated fat. Try sunflower and other vegetable oils containing polyunsaturated fats. Research shows that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats is associated with reduced LDL cholesterol and a lower risk for heart attacks and dying of a heart attack.

Choice 5: Snack on unsalted walnuts, almonds, and other nuts

These will give you your fill of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. They can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Put down ultra-processed foods (chips, cookies, etc.) that contain high amounts of unhealthy fats, added sugars, and sodium. Eating these foods has been linked to a higher risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and other health problems.

 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Nelda Mercer, MS, RD, FADA
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2020
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