Healthy Choices that Won’t Break the Bank
If your goal is to lower your heart disease risk, you may need to change your eating habits. Choosing foods that are good for your heart can help you live a longer and healthier life and, as a bonus, it may even help you shed unwanted pounds. Fortunately, improving your diet is possible even when on a budget. Get started today by following these eight simple heart-healthy diet tips recommended by MD Now.
Control Portion Sizes
How much you eat at each meal is just as important as the foods you choose. When you overload your plate, you often eat more calories than you need, which can lead to weight gain and poor heart health.
When eating at home, use a small plate or bowl to help limit portions. Fill your plate with a larger portion of low-calorie foods that are good for your heart, like vegetables and fruit. High-calorie and high-sodium foods should take up a smaller portion of the plate. Eating out? Ask the server to place half of the meal inside a take-out box, or order a smaller meal like soup or salad. These options are often less expensive as well.
Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables
Rich in vitamins and minerals, low-calorie and fruits and vegetables should be the star of a heart-healthy diet. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet may help you cut back on high-fat foods like meats and cheeses.
Shape up your kitchen by keeping fruits and vegetables pre-washed and ready to eat as snacks. Select recipes that are centered on foods good for heart health, including vegetable stir-fries and fruit salads.
Select Low-Fat Protein
Wondering what types of protein are best when promoting heart health? Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, and eggs are all examples of heart-healthy foods. However, it’s important to choose low-fat options, including skinless chicken breasts and skim milk when concerned about heart disease.
Fish is another great alternative to high-fat meats, as it often contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower triglyceride levels. Other sources of omega-3s include walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseed.
Incorporate Whole Grains
Fiber-rich whole grains play an important role in promoting heart health. Instead of choosing items made with white flour, look for heart-healthy foods like whole-grain farro, barley, or quinoa. Check labels on items to ensure that whole-grain flour is the first ingredient in the list. Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, or oats.
Limit Saturated and Trans Fats
When it comes to adopting a heart-healthy diet, limiting saturated and trans fats is key. Eating unhealthy fats regularly can cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
In general, saturated fat should make up less than 7 percent of your calories each day, while trans fat should make up less than 1 percent. When cooking, limit solid fats like butter, shortening, and margarine, and choose foods good for heart health, like lean meats and fish.
Add Healthy Fats to Meals
Following a heart-healthy eating plan doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. While trans and saturated fats should be limited, healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, salmon, and flaxseed can be consumed safely in moderation. Remember, all fats are high in calories, so use a measuring spoon to limit portion size.
Lower the Sodium in Your Food
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend that you reduce sodium. Those following a heart-healthy eating plan should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, which is about a teaspoon of salt.
Avoiding canned soups and vegetables can reduce sodium consumption. Instead, choose foods that are good for your heart, like fresh vegetables, and prepare soups from scratch.
Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
Once you’ve determined which foods are good for your heart and what foods should be limited, it’s time to create a menu plan. When you prepare meals in advance, it reduces the risk of purchasing high-fat takeout foods, which can help you save money.
When preparing meals, be mindful of portion sizes and emphasize whole grains and vegetables. Adding foods that are good for heart protection, like lean meats and healthy fats, will complete the meal.
Living a long and healthy life is possible when you incorporate heart-healthy foods. With a bit of planning and simple substitutions, you can enjoy delicious foods while protecting your heart.
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