By: Janet Hunt

A heart healthy diet is a diet that is low in cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium (salt). Below are some tips for a heart healthy diet:

  • Read labels. Do not purchase foods that list palm oil, coconut oil, or hydrogenated oil. All these oils are unhealthy oils.
  • Use only small amounts of vegetable oil in salads and cooking. Choose safflower, corn, soy, sunflower, peanut, canola, or olive oils. Use non-stick spray in place of oil.
  • Bake, broil, steam, poach, or grill. Do not fry.
  • Cook with little or no salt; and season with herbs and no-salt seasonings.
  • Limit your red meat to 3 oz. servings once or twice per week.
  • Butter, hard margarine, and Crisco should be avoided. Creams, whole milk, ice cream, sour cream, and most cheeses have high levels of saturated fat and should be eaten in moderation.

Below are additional suggestions for a heart healthy diet:

  • When eating meat, select meats with a lower fat content. Trim all visible fat from the meat and remove skin from poultry before cooking.
  • Bake, broil, roast or BBQ meats – never fry.
  • Eat fish and poultry. Limit beef and pork to only one or two times per week.
  • Read nutrition labels carefully and check the nutrition facts.
  • Add more meatless dishes to your meals.
  • Limit your salt or sodium to 1500 to 2300 mg per day. Sea salt is NOT healthier that standard table salt. Himalayan salt is NOT healthier than standard table salt.
  • Limit dining out to only one or two times per week. And when dining out, check nutritional information before making food selections.

How to read a food label? Begin by reading serving size and sodium content information. For example, if a serving size is 1 cup (250 calories per serving, and 2 cups per container), the sodium content is 470 mg, then answer the following questions:

1. If you ate the entire box of this product, how many calories will you have eaten?
2. If you ate 2 servings of this product, how much sodium will you have eaten?
3. Is this food item a good choice for a heart healthy diet?

Answers:
1. 250 calories x 2 servings per container = 500 calories.
2. 2 servings x 470 mg per serving = 940 mg of sodium.
3. No.

For more information regarding food labels and heart healthy diet, talk to a registered dietician or a certified Health Coach. By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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