We get energy and nutrition from what we put into our body. Our health can be a direct result of the diet we consume. If you are trying to improve or sustain your heart health, try swapping out certain foods with a heart-healthy alternative. Here we have constructed a heart healthy shopping list with some guidelines on food groups to keep your ticker going strong!
Main focus areas:
- 1. Less saturated and trans fats
- 2. Less sodium
- 3. More fiber
Fruits & Vegetables
Eating enough fruits and vegetables can be a challenge for some people. But it’s not only about forgetting to eat your vegetables, it’s making sure you are eating them in a way that is good for your heart’s health and not loaded with extra salt and sugar.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, bananas, pears, apples, or as they come into season.
Canned vegetables: Choose low-sodium options
Canned fruits: Look for those that are canned or packaged in 100% juice instead of syrup
Frozen vegetables: don’t get tempted by the buttery sauces often added to frozen vegetable meals. When looking for frozen vegetables, find some that have no added flavors or freeze your own veggies at home.
Frozen fruits: Choose frozen fruits that have not been stored in syrup or with additional sugar
Dried fruits: Look for the unsweetened options. Fruit is already sweet by nature, but it’s not uncommon to see dried fruit dusted or infused with sugar. Raisins are a good dried fruit because they are full of potassium which helps lower hypertension.
Milk and dairy products are things we use almost, if not every day. We drink it and cook with it– it makes sense to choose the types of dairy products that would be healthy for our hearts. By focusing on lower-fat dairy options, we are making a small change that means big things for your body. Milk and cheese: in the heart healthy shopping list!
Milk: look for fat-free or low-fat milks (1%) or choose a low-fat soy milk with added calcium. Soy milk is naturally low in fat and can help lower cholesterol. Skip milk that has any flavoring added (chocolate, strawberry) as they usually contain higher amounts of sugar.
Yogurt: opt for fat free or low-fat yogurt. There are even a lot of ways to boost plain yogurt by adding fresh fruits and honey
Cheese: Choose cheeses that have 3 grams of fat or less per serving or low-fat cheeses
Bread and grains are not your body’s enemy. In fact, your body requires nutrients and carbohydrates from breads to thrive. There is, however, a healthy way and an unhealthy way to eat breads, cereals, and grains. Knowing the difference is half the battle.
Breads: 100% whole-wheat bread. If the product has multiple ingredients, make sure whole wheat or whole grains are listed first! When buying bakery goods, take a look at the label to see how much saturated and/or trans fat is baked into it.
Breakfast cereals: there are many whole grain cereals on the market. Make sure they don’t add sugar or sweeteners to the grains. Oatmeal is a great choice.
Grains: whole grains can be easy to buy in bulk at your local food market or health food store. Grains such as brown rice, wild rice, bulgur, and barley are some versatile whole grain alternatives
Pasta: Choose pastas that are whole-wheat or whole-grain
Meat, beans, eggs, and fish are some of the most versatile types of foods. Just like with breads and grains, not all proteins are created equally. Which cuts of meat should we consider when going heart healthy shopping?
Poultry: choose chicken breast or turkey breast without the skin
Pork: leg, tenderloin, shoulder
Beef: extra lean ground beef, sirloin, tenderloin
Eggs: whites, egg substitutes
Beans lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds: Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E, and folate. Almonds are sweeter than walnuts but still contain the same heart healthy nutrients. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3’s and a spoonful only has 60 calories!
Fish: Salmon is packed with omega-3’s. Sardines contain fish oil omega-3’s which gives your body a boost of good cholesterol. Bake fish with spice and lemon juice as seasoning for the most healthful results. It’s recommended that a person eats two servings of fish a week.
Oils & Fats
Oils and fats aren’t completely omitted from a heart healthy shopping trip. It’s just important to remember to limit these to just a small amount a day and keep an eye on saturated fat content. Look for products with no trans fats!
Butter: look for margarine and spreads that contain 0 trans fats
Oil: choose a peanut, olive, or sesame oil. When looking to buy a non-stick cooking spray, choose one with no trans fats. Extra virgin olive oil contains higher levels of “good fat” and antioxidants to help unclog your arteries.
Dressings: light or fat-free salad dressings, or simply oil and vinegar.