We had to switch to a heart healthy diet a couple of years ago because my husband passed down the heart disease genetics to my oldest son. Lots of men in my husband’s family passed away at an early age due to heart disease; including his brother who passed away at age 30. My son and husband both have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and have a problem with a certain amino acid that affects the heart. Everyone in our family exercises and is either normal weight or under weight, so the only change we had left to make was diet. I thought we ate pretty healthy before, but I was amazed at how many changes we had to make.
The first change I’m going to talk to you about is vegetables. I know vegetables aren’t everyone’s favorite food, especially if you’re a kid, but they are good for you and a very important part of your diet. Here are some tips from the American Heart Association on how to shop for fruits and vegetables. It’s important to buy plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. The ones that are deeply colored throughout, like spinach, carrots, peaches and berries are higher in vitamins and minerals than vegetables like potatoes and corn. If fresh isn’t available, you can buy frozen or canned as long as they are in water without added sugars, saturated and trans fat or salt. I am glad that you can buy frozen because sometimes I need something fast, and don’t have the time to cut the fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables are affordable too and sometimes even go on sale! I always stock up when they do.
Beans, peas, oranges, bananas, strawberries and apples are good sources of fiber. Whole fruit is much better at providing fiber and satisfying hunger than fruit juice. Fiber is also an important part of your diet.
Raw vegetables are good for snacks; some examples are carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower. We like to dip them in a low fat homemade dip (I will share that recipe another time) or low fat Ranch dressing. Sometimes on a Sunday, I will cut up enough vegetables for several days of snacks to save time during the week. You can also use canned fruits, dried fruits (without added sugars), and gelatin that contains fruit for dessert, rather than having baked goods or sweets.
Talk to your doctor before having grapefruit, grapefruit juice, pomegranate and pomegranate juice because they may interact with cholesterol-lowering medications. I know my husband can’t have those fruits for that reason; there’s a warning label on his medicine.
Do you have any tips for shopping for fruits or vegetables?