Do you need to start living heart healthy, but have no idea how? I totally understand that overwhelming feeling, and I can help! Come see how to get started on a heart healthy diet!
When you find out you need to start on a heart healthy diet, it can seem so overwhelming! With all of the information out there, you don’t know where to start. Also, it can be hard to know what’s the right advice and what isn’t.
I have spent a lot of time researching information from the American Heart Association. So, I would love to share with you what I learned about living on a heart healthy diet.
I’ve already written several posts on how to do that, so I decided it would be easier for you if I summed them all up in one place. Of course, you can click on the links to the posts if you want to read more detailed information about that topic.
Heart Healthy Diet Cookbooks to Get You Started
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One of the things that helped me the most in learning how to live a heart healthy diet was buying some heart healthy cookbooks. They’re great for recipes and cooking tips. I looked for every healthy cookbook and magazine I could find. I found a few that I’m really happy with.
1. New American Heart Association Cookbook. The New American Heart Association Cookbook has been very helpful. I’ve found lots of recipes that we like for snacks, dessert, fish, chicken, and vegetables. My favorite thing about this cookbook is the Appendices. You will learn so much from reading them! Some examples are: how your diet affects your heart, how to grocery shop and cook for your heart, menu planning and substitutions.
2. Taste of Home Healthy Cookbooks. I’ve always loved Taste of Home magazines, but since we have to follow a heart healthy diet, a lot of my recipes from those magazines didn’t qualify. I’ve been able to modify some, but others just can’t be modified. So, when I saw they made two healthy cookbooks, Taste of Home Healthy Cooking Cookbook and Taste of Home Best Loved Healthy Recipes, I was so excited! It’s their recipes, made healthier.
3. Go Fresh: A Heart-Healthy Cookbook with Shopping and Storage Tips. Another great cookbook is Go Fresh: A Heart-Healthy Cookbook with Shopping and Storage Tips. The cookbook is 320 pages and comes as a paperback. It has a preface, healthy tips, recipes, and appendixes. It’s published by the American Heart Association and has input from 6 different recipe developers and a nutrition analyst; 2 of those 6 are registered dietitians.
The Heart Check Food Program
One thing that has made our transition to eating a heart healthy diet easier is the American Heart Association Heart Check Food Program. The Heart-Check mark means the food product meets their nutrition requirements. This makes shopping for heart healthy foods so much easier.
1. How to Use The Heart Check Food Program. All you have to do is look for the red heart with a white check mark on the package. The name of the American Heart Association will be on the top. If you see both of those things, you know the A.H.A. certifies it.
2. Nutrition Requirements for the Heart Check Food Program. There’s a section about Heart Check in the Grocery Store that talks about nutrition requirements for food and how a food becomes certified. These nutrition requirements are how you learn what to look for on the product labels.
3. Eating Out Using the Heart Check Food Program. The section on the American Heart Association Heart Check Food Program helps you know what to look for on the nutrition menu when you’re eating out. It also lists some meals at various restaurants that meet their requirements. The heart check is listed on the restaurant’s menu also, so you can look there too.
4. Recipe Requirements for the Heart Check Food Program. If you want to know if the recipe you’re going to make meets the heart check requirements, you can look at the Recipe Nutrition Requirements.
Related Post: American Heart Association Heart Check Food Program
Here are some other resources to help you get started on your heart healthy diet:
How to Understand Food Nutrition Labels for a Heart Healthy Diet
When you learn how to read and understand food nutrition labels, you will know how to make heart healthy choices.
1. Serving Size. The first thing you should look at on food nutrition labels, is the serving size. See what size a single serving is, and how many servings are in a package. This will help you decide if one serving size is enough for you, or if you need to double it.
2. Total Calories Per Serving. The second thing you should look at is the total calories per serving. 40 calories per serving is low, 100 calories per serving is moderate, and 400 calories or more per serving is high. If, after looking at the serving size, you decide you need to double it, you will also need to double the calories and nutrients.
3. Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. The third thing you need to look at is the fat, cholesterol and sodium. These are nutrients you need to limit. Per serving this is what it should look like:
Total Fat: Less than 6.5 g.
Saturated Fat: 1 g or less and 15% or less calories
Trans Fat: Less than 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 20 mg or less
Sodium: 480 mg or less
4. Beneficial Nutrients. The fourth thing to look at is the beneficial nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. You want to make sure that when you add up all you eat in a day, you get 100% of these nutrients.
5. Percent Daily Values. The fifth section you should look at is the %DV. This means Percent Daily Values. This tells you the percentage of each nutrient in one serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. You should choose foods with a lower %DV(5% or less) for those nutrients you should consume less of; and a higher %DV(20% or more) for those nutrients you want to consume more of.
Related Post: How to Read and Understand Food Nutrition LabelsDo you need to start living heart healthy, but have no idea how? I've been there, and I can help! Come see how to get started on a heart healthy diet!Click To Tweet
Adapt Existing Recipes for a Heart Healthy Diet
It’s a much easier change on you and your whole family if you can still use the same recipes you’ve used over the years. So, there are several ways to adapt your current recipes to follow a heart healthy diet.
1. If your recipe calls for, regular broth or bouillon, instead, use fat-free, low-sodium broths. You can make it yourself or you can buy it. There are lots of different healthy broths available, including the store brands. You can also use salt-free or low-sodium bouillon granules or cubes.
2. If your recipe calls for, butter or shortening, instead, use fat-free spray margarine or light tub margarine. I use Country Crock light margarine. In baked goods, the type of fat is important to the recipe, so for baking, I use stick margarine instead. It’s important to look for the product with the lowest saturated and trans fats. I use Imperial, and the saturated fat is 2.5g and there’s no trans fat.
3. If your recipe calls for, butter for sauteeing, instead, use vegetable oil, like canola, corn or olive. You can also use cooking spray, fat free and low sodium broth, or fruit/vegetable juice.
4. If your recipe calls for, cream, instead, use fat free half and half, fat free nondairy creamer, or fat free evaporated milk. All of these items are available in store brands, so they’re affordable. The half and half that I buy also has a resealable lid, so if I don’t need the whole thing for a recipe, I can seal it up and refrigerate it until the next recipe.
5. If your recipe calls for, eggs, instead, use cholesterol free egg substitutes, 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg, or even omega-3 eggs. I talk about this more in my post, Heart Healthy Egg Whites and Omega 3 Eggs.
I have 9 more tips for adapting existing recipes in this post: 14 Ways to Adapt Existing Recipes to be Heart Healthy
Here are some foods to help you get started on your heart healthy diet:
So, now you have some great information on how to get started on a heart healthy diet. Hopefully it’s not so overwhelming anymore, and it seems like something you can actually accomplish. I have a lot more information in the Heart Healthy section of my blog. Of course, if you need help with any of these, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help!
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