Heart disease used to be something that just happened to us. We could blame it on heredity, getting older, or any other handy excuse. Now, we know better. We know that smoking, lack of activity, and poor food choices multiply our risk for getting heart disease.
Eight Essentials to a Heart Healthy Diet
The following recommendations are from the American Heart Association (AHA).
- 1. Cut back on fat. Total fat intake should account for less than 30 percent of your daily calories.
- 2. Limit saturated fats. Saturated fats should take up no more than ten percent of your daily caloric intake. The easiest way to limit these fats is to cut back on red meat, butter, and dairy fats.
- 3. Limit egg consumption. Because one egg contains almost 300 milligrams of cholesterol, it is best to limit egg consumption to twice a week. Cholesterol intake should be less than 100 milligrams per 1,000 calories, not to exceed 300 milligrams per day.
- 4. Don't be concerned about protein. Protein intake should make up 15 percent of daily calories. There is little reason for concern, unless you are a professional bodybuilder who requires a higher protein intake.
- 5. Crank up those carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should make up 50 percent of your daily calories, with the emphasis on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit.
- 6. Watch the salt. Sodium intake should not exceed three grams per day.
- 7. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol intake should be limited to no more than two beers or two glasses of wine per day.
- 8. Eat a varied diet.
The wider the variety of your diet, the greater the likelihood that you are getting all of the essential nutrients your body needs.
Smart Food Shopper's Starters
Before you head to your local grocery store, there are pre-shopping steps that can make your trip a whole lot easier, help you pick the most nutritious foods available, and help you save money to boot.
As you study the pre-shopping steps, keep these tips in mind to get started down the right aisle!
- Know the layout of your store.
- Check newspaper ads for foods on sale. Use discount coupons only if they're for items you really buy.
- Eat before shopping. If you go to the store hungry, you're likely to buy things you don't really need.
- Keep a list of foods you usually buy to compare regular and sale prices.
- Shop where there's unit pricing to help you choose from various brands and sizes. Where unit pricing isn't available, figure the price per ounce by dividing the price by the number of ounces in the container.
- Compare prices of various forms of the same foods, such as canned, frozen and fresh orange juice.
- Read labels carefully for ingredient and nutrition information. Look for the AHA heart-check mark for foods low in fat and cholesterol.
- Beware of crushed or damaged frozen food packages. The contents may have been thawed and refrozen.
- Pass up displays at check-out stations. They're often items you buy on impulse rather than need.
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