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Quick and Easy Food Choices for Better Heart Health

January 29, 2016

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Physical health is every bit as important as emotional health. But you need not stress out about it. We can all learn to eat better and healthier by following a few simple tips.

  • Eat mostly fresh foods—fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads—that contain no preservatives. You’ll usually find these foods in the outer aisles of the supermarket.
  • Stay away from packaged and processed foods, including muffins, chips, cookies, and canned and frozen foods. Most are loaded with added sugars, fats and salt. (Note: added sugar can appear on food labels as “corn sweetener,” “dextrose,” “fructose,” “high-fructose corn syrup,” “lactose,” and “maltose,” among other names.)
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables; they’re low in calories and filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating more fruits and greens will help you cut back on high-fat cheeses, meats, and crackers. Snack on carrots, celery, berries, apples, kiwis and other colorful foods that you’ve washed and placed in the fridge in see-through containers for easy access.
  • Choose whole grains, which are great sources of fiber. Whole-grain breads, high-fiber cereals (3-5g of fiber per serving), brown rice, barley, quinoa, and whole-grain pastas are good choices. Avoid white and corn breads, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, pies, and buttered popcorn.
  • Instead of frying, bake or grill fish or no-skin chicken. Trim fat off meat or choose lean meats. Try substituting lentils and beans for meat. They’re good sources of protein; as a bonus, they’re cholesterol-free.
  • Eat more fish. Salmon and herring are great choices, because they contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Cut down on salt, which contributes to high blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Flavor good with herbs and spices like curry powder, black pepper, garlic and ginger.
  • Reduce your sugar intake. After a few weeks of eating/drinking less sugar, you’ll almost certainly find your favorite cake or sugary drinks are way too sweet for your taste. This really works!
  • Cut down on solid fats like butter, margarine, and shortening, as well as bacon fat, gravies, cream sauces, and palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils to reduce your cholesterol and lessen your risk of heart disease. You can substitute olive and canola oils. But remember—all fats are high in calories.

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