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.
PLAN HEART-HEALTHY MEALS AND SNACKS
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
COOK HEART-HEALTHY MEALS
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
|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|