Shopping for Heart Health
February is American Heart Month, so what better time than to consider how what we eat affects our cardiovascular health. Many foods not only taste good, but are also good for your heart. Here are a few quick tips to help you shop for the best foods to maintain a healthy heart.
- Fruits and vegetables – Choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including as many different colors as possible. Choose fresh when available, but frozen and canned are also good choices (just keep an eye on sodium content in canned goods). Look for high-fiber options, such as beans and apples. Skip fruit juice in favor of fiber-filled whole fruits.
- Dairy and Eggs – Choose fat-free or low-fat options. Use egg whites or egg replacers, instead of whole eggs, to lower your overall cholesterol consumption. Look at saturated fat content and choose items with lower quantities. Limit your consumption of butter, ice cream, and cream. Switch from ice cream to frozen yogurt, if you crave a sweet, frozen treat.
- Meat, Fish, and Poultry – Choose fish and poultry over red meat. In particular, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death and improve overall cardiovascular health. Skip the cream sauces on fish and go with lemon juice instead. When choosing red meat, look for cuts lower in fat (usually labeled “loin” or “round”). Remove skin from poultry and choose light meat over dark.
- Breads and Grains – Choose whole grains over processed ones. Whole wheat, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and other such grains are high in fiber. Limit the overall amount of prepared baked goods in your diet (including cereals, muffins, doughnuts, and cookies). Look for whole-grain, low-fat crackers or snack bars, but keep an eye on your sodium.
- Fats and Oils – Limit your overall intake of fats and oils by only purchasing small amounts. Choose oils with low quantities of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Decrease your salad dressing consumption, making your own from heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil, if possible.
To make your grocery shopping even more heart smart, check out the American Heart Association’s Grocery List Builder.