Foods labeled as “heart-healthy” have been deemed to be low in sodium, low in saturated fat, and contain no trans fats. Heart healthy foods contain very little fat in general.
The heart healthy check: You’ve seen this check mark on food labels in the grocery store, but you may have not known what it was for. What exactly does heart healthy food need to have before it can be labeled so? Foods have to meet a specific set of qualifications in order to be packaged with the Heart Healthy Check on their label. The FDA inspects each product to make sure it meets the standars. You can read more about the qualifications at heart.org:
- Total Fat: Less than 6.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g or less and 15% or less calories from saturated fat
- Trans Fat: Less than 0.5 g (also per label serving*). Products containing partially hydrogenated oils are not eligible for certification.
- Cholesterol: 20 mg or less
- Sodium: One of four sodium limits applies depending on the particular food category: up to 140 mg, 240 mg or 360 mg per label serving*, or 480 mg per label serving and per RACC*. See Sodium Limits by Category for details.
- Beneficial Nutrients (naturally occurring): 10% or more of the Daily Value of 1 of 6 nutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber)
Eating heart-healthy foods don’t mean you are going to directly lower your risk for heart diease. Certain fresh foods, nuts, beans, legumes that contain a higher level of soluble fiber are responsible for decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Some of the most heart-healthy foods don’t even have a label, which is why choosing foods just because they say “heart-healthy” on the label will not be the decision that makes the difference.
When a food claims to be rich in antioxidants, what exactly does that mean? We hear this term all the time now, but it’s meaning is still a little vague. Scientists aren’t even in agreeance on which antioxidants or what levels of antioxidants are enough to be beneficial. It’s suggested to seek out a wide variety of antioxidant-rich whole foods instead of shopping by antioxidant-rich labels. Some of the most popular foods that are packed with antioxidants are:
- Green tea
The best way to have a well-rounded diet of antioxidants is by eating a colorful rainbow of heart fruits and vegetables!
Foods that have a label that reads “high in fiber” must contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. That sounds like a simple and quick-to-the-point explanation, but sometimes during food processing fiber is lost. When this happens, manufacturers may add processed fiber back into the food to restore some of what was lost during processing or boost the food with added fiber.
The best way to add high-fiber foods to a diet is by choosing whole grains such and bran or oats.