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    Home  >  blog   >  Protect Your Heart: Plan and Cook Heart Healthy Meals

    Protect Your Heart: Plan and Cook Heart Healthy Meals

    Through my experience, I have noticed that many tend to think that eating heart-healthy meals is only applicable to those who have a medical concern like hypertension, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood triglyceride levels, or diabetes.

    It is easier to indulge in processed and commercial food, and eating “Healthy” is usually perceived as “dieting” and eating food that are tasteless and not really satisfying.
    But as I mentioned in my previous article, being healthy doesn’t mean that you need to be restrictive and completely eliminate the food that give you pleasure.
    Eating healthy is a “way of life”, a lifestyle that all the family can adopt in order to protect your body, your heart and blood vessels while still enjoying the meals and feeling good!
    Well in today’s article, I will give you some tips on how to Plan and Cook heart-healthy meals and snacks that can easily fit your daily life.
    Pick 2 to 3 things you are ready, willing, and able to try this week. Then use this list for more ideas later on.  Small changes can make a big difference in your health!


    Choose heart-healthy protein foods
    • Eat fish 2 to 3 times per week. Whether it is oven baked, grilled on a barbecue, or as sashimi and sushi, Albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, sardines, and salmon are great choices.
    • Include plant protein foods such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu and soy-based, chickpeas, or quinoa “burger”.
    • Buy poultry such as chicken and turkey without the skin or remove the skin before cooking.
    • Choose lean cuts of beef such as round, sirloin, and flank steak, tenderloin and rump roast, T-bone, and cubed steak.
    • Pick lean types of pork: sandwich Ham with 3 grams of fat or less in each ounce, and pork tenderloin.
    Have a meatless meal at least once a week
    • Cook a vegetable lasagne or homemade pizza.
    • Try meatless chili with kidney beans.
    • Make black bean or lentil soup.
    • Stir-fry vegetables with tofu.
    Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy foods
    • Choose fat-free skim milk or low fat milk.
    • Choose white cheese instead of cured and ages yellow cheese.
    • Use fat-free or low fat yogurt, Laban, Labneh, and cottage cheese.
    Choose whole-grain foods
    • Buy whole wheat bread, toast, and cereals instead of white and refined.
    • Check the food label and choose products with whole wheat as the first ingredient.
    • Choose brown rice and wild rice instead of white rice.
    • Eat whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta.
    • Have whole corn tortilla instead of white flour tortilla.
    • Try quinoa, barley, bulgur or faro for new flavours.
    • Have a snack like air-popped popcorn instead of chips or pretzels.
    Eat more vegetables and fruits
    • Have a salad or vegetable soup at lunch and at dinner as a starter.
    • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, radish, asparagus, carrots, mushroom, and salad.
    • Eat dark green and dark yellow vegetables every day, such as broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, squash, pepper, collards.
    • Snack on cut-up raw vegetables and fruits that can also be eaten with a dip such as labneh dip, Guacamole, dark chocolate dip, peanut butter.
    • Choose fruit for dessert or when you are craving something sweet. Fruits can be used as a topping over a low fat yogurt or ice cream made with skimmed milk.
    Cut back on salt
    • Avoid adding table salt to your food after cooking
    • Add spices, herbs, garlic and onion to enhance the flavours.
    • Rinse with water all canned food in order to remove excess sodium.
    • Check food labels and choose foods with less salt defined as sodium.


    Use these healthy cooking tips
    • Broil, microwave, bake, roast, poach, steam, or grill your food.
    • Use non-stick pan and grease with cooking sprays.
    • Trim fat from meat and poultry before cooking.
    • Roast food on a rack to let the fat drip off
    • Make soup a day ahead and refrigerate. Before you reheat it, lift off the layer of fat that has risen to the top and throw it away.
    Use a range of fats for cooking
    • New research show that olive oil is a great vegetable oil to use for cooking compared to sunflower or corn oil. The reason is that this oil is richer in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, and these are much more stable when heated producing far less aldehydes which are associated to increased risk of heart diseases.
    • Current evidence does not clearly support heart healthy guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and minimal consumption of total saturated fats.

    People are always asking me what to cook with. The simple answer is, keep a range of oils.

    • Use olive and rapeseed oils for cooking and salads; canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, pumpkin and avocado oils for dressings and dips; and occasionally coconut, butter or a similar saturated fat can be used for heating at high temperature.
    • Try to cook less with lard, bacon grease, and stick margarine.
    Boost the flavour with seasonings and sauces instead of salt and fat
    • Look for recipes that use herbs, spices, and lemon juice for flavour.
    • Cook without adding salt.
    • Try lemon juice, lemon pepper, or other salt-free seasoning on fish.
    • Marinate chicken in low-fat Italian dressing like balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then baked or grill it.

    Smart Food Choices: What To Try and Why

    Instead of

    Try this


    Whole milk 1% milk or fat-free skimmed milk

    Less saturated fat, less cholesterol

    Yellow cheese Low-fat, or white cheese
    Snack on chips and pretzels Low-fat yogurt with fruits, air popped popcorn, white cheese on whole wheat toast Less saturated fat, less trans-fat, fewer calories
    Regular mayonnaise Reduced fat mayonnaise Less total fat, fewer calories
    Regular stick margarine Soft tub margarine rich in plant sterols No trans-fat, low in saturated fat, fewer calories
    Sour cream Plain Greek yogurt or Labneh Less saturated fat
    Fried chicken Baked chicken Less saturated fat, fewer calories
    Bologna, salami, pastrami Sliced turkey, lean ham, low-fat sandwich meats Less Saturated fat, fewer calories
    Short ribs Grilled T-bone steak Less saturated fat
    Pork chop Pork tenderloin Less saturated fat
    Fried seafood and fish Grilled, baked, or sashimi salmon or tuna Less saturated fat