Six Substitutions for a Healthy Heart
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Did you know that cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States? Approximately one of every three deaths is attributable to the disease, which is typically related to atherosclerosis—the narrowing of the arteries from plaque buildup. Exercise and diet are two modifiable factors that can help prevent variables associated with heart disease including high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight.
Simple substitutions in your meals can help promote your best heart health. Next time you are cooking, incorporate these six heart-healthy substitutions.
1. Avoid using prepackaged seasoning mixes or adding salt when cooking. Prepackaged seasoning mixes tend to be high in sodium. Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. To add flavor to your favorite dishes, use seasonings such as fresh or dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, etc.), spices, garlic and citrus juices. It is important to always examine food labels to help you select lower sodium items.
2. Restrict refined grains from your diet. Refined grains include foods like white bread, white rice and white pasta. These products have been processed, thereby removing important nutrients and fiber. When grocery shopping, increase your fiber intake by choosing 100 percent whole-grain products. Fiber adds bulk to your diet creating a feeling of fullness. It can also reduce your risk for heart disease. Look for whole-grain products such as breads, cereals, oatmeal, brown rice, pasta and corn.
3. Steer clear of high-fat meats. High-fat meats include marbled meats, cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, bacon and fried or breaded meats. They contain unhealthy saturated fats and can raise your blood cholesterol levels. Instead, choose low-fat protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, legumes and fish. Also try consuming cold water fish rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids two to three times per week—salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel are great options. Omega-3s are healthy fats that help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
4. Choose 1 percent and fat-free dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Whole milk and whole milk dairy products contain saturated fats which increase the risk for heart disease. If you love drinking whole milks, start with your typical milk and gradually move to lower-fat and fat-free products to adjust your diet.
5. Regulate the amount of butter, margarine, shortening, coconut oil and palm oil you cook with. These products contain saturated fats which increase the risk for heart disease. Instead, sparingly use healthy unsaturated fats such as canola, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower oil. Remember all types of fats are high in calories!
6. Control the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages you drink. Although they may taste good, beverages such as sweet tea, soda, juices and sport drinks contain high levels of sugars which can be problematic for your insulin regulatory system. As an alternative, drink more water or other beverages that do not have any added sugars. It is important to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level.
Follow these tips to start your journey toward a happy and healthy heart!
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Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.