Food for Thought | HEALTHY HEART
not have the impact you hope for.
That’s because packaged foods and
restaurant meals are the real culprits. Limiting those foods can help.
“If someone really wants to follow
a 1,500-milligram sodium diet, they
can’t eat out [often]. It’s going to be
a treat for them,” says Jennifer Neily,
MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian in private practice in Dallas.
Also a problem are processed
meats, such as bacon, salami, bologna,
and pastrami, which are all high in
sodium. “Honestly, turkey bacon is not
any more healthy than regular bacon,”
says Neily. “When it comes down to
the sodium content, it’s often worse.”
One eating plan that specifically
caters to those looking to reduce their
salt intake and lower blood pressure
is the DASH diet, which stands for
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hyper-
tension. This approach limits salt and
added sugar intake and also promotes
fruit and vegetable consumption.
Eating fruits and veggies increases
potassium, calcium, and magne-
sium—nutrients shown to positively
affect blood pressure.
2Get Smart About Fat The fat you eat is a direct player in heart disease,
which is why a heart-healthy eating
plan limits saturated fat and eliminates trans fats. Saturated fat, found
Here’s a sample day of meals with a heart-healthy focus. The Menu whole grains low-fat dairy fruit & veggies lean protein healthful fats
a cup of whole-grain cereal with
half a cup of low-fat or nonfat milk,
a tablespoon of nuts, and a
serving of berries.
Sandwich on whole-grain bread with 3 ounces of chicken and a small
amount of reduced-fat mayo, piled with veggies such as lettuce, tomato,
cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, and basil. Side of steamed broccoli with
a drizzle of olive oil. a small piece of fruit.
mostly in meat, full-fat dairy, butter,
and coconut and palm oils, is solid
at room temperature and can raise
your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Even worse: trans fats, which are
typically artificial and added to processed foods to maintain their shelf
life. “This type of fat is especially bad
because too much can lower your
HDL [‘good’] cholesterol and raise
your LDL—a double whammy to your
heart health,” says Willow Jarosh,
RD, a registered dietitian in private
practice in New York City.
Thanks to label laws, many restau-
rants and food manufacturers have
removed trans fats from their prod-
ucts. Yet plenty of packaged foods
claim to have zero trans fats but actu-
ally have some because amounts less
than a half gram per serving don’t
have to be listed. “To know with abso-
lute certainty, look at the ingredient
label and look for the words partially
hydrogenated,” says Neily. “There
might be a trace of trans fat in there,
and if you have multiple servings it’s
going to add up.”
Not all fats are harmful to your
heart, including monounsaturated
and polyunsaturated fats. Monoun-
saturated fats are found in plant-based
foods such as olive oil, avocados, and
nuts; polyunsaturated fats are found
in foods such as soybean and safflower
oils, fish, and walnuts.
a container of low-fat, no-sugar-added yogurt.
three ounces of tenderloin and a tossed salad with
nonstarchy veggies and e cup of cold quinoa
with a dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and spices.
3Choose Your Meats Wisely Because saturated fat is a
no-no for heart health, be selective
about what meat you eat. Red meats
such as beef, lamb, and venison are
high in saturated fat. Opt for lean
meats such as skinless chicken and
turkey, pork tenderloin or loin roast
(but not ham or bacon, which are high
in sodium), and fish.
If you eat red meat, consider the