Three Nutrients to Consider for Heart Healthy Cooking
Hi I’m Michelle Yates, I’m a Dietitian for CHI Health, and I’m here to give you some tips for cooking in a heart healthy way.
When we’re thinking about our hearts we want to focus on three main nutrients in our diet: the kinds of fats we’re eating, the kinds of carbohydrates we’re eating, and sodium.
Choosing Quality Carbs for Your Heart
We want to eat quality carbohydrates that come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and beans. These types of carbs are good for your heart. However, the carbs that come from sugar (liked baked goods) can actually raise your triglycerides, which put you at risk for coronary artery disease.
To cut down on refined sugars and add in quality carbohydrates, I suggest using a zero calorie sweetener when you’re baking cookies or cut the amount of sugar the recipe calls for in half. When you’re making a soup, try adding beans or lentils to provide extra fiber which can lower your bad cholesterol, also known as LDL’s. Finally, adding in more vegetables to your diet can keep your heart healthy.
Avoid Saturated Fats
When cooking, it’s important to be aware of saturated fats. Some fats are good for you, but saturated fats are the main culprit for increasing your cholesterol. Sources of saturated fats would be butter, lard, mayonnaise, beef, bacon and coconut oil. I tell my patients that if it is solid at room temperature, it is probably a saturated fat. Try to swap those out for unsaturated liquid fats like olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil. Any nuts and seeds have a good source of unsaturated fat as well, as do avocados and fish! Whenever you can, try to swap out the saturated fat for unsaturated fats to keep up your heart health.
Avoiding Sodium can Increase Heart Health
Lastly we want to watch the quantity of sodium in our meals, better known as salt. There is salt pretty much everywhere! It is a preservative so it keeps food lasting longer and it’s also something to flavor foods with. The problem with this is it can put our hearts at risk. So, we want to only consume 2,300 milligrams of salt or less per day for a typical person. If you have any preexisting heart issues you may want to do 2,000 milligrams or less.
Sources of sodium would be anything that is packaged, frozen or canned. There are usually low sodium options or no salt options so make sure to check the nutrition label on the back of the package where you will get the most accurate information. Make sure you’re at 300 milligrams or less per serving to make it a heart healthy choice. When you are at the table try to not add salt onto your food. Other flavor substitutes could be pepper, fresh herbs and spices, or even lemon or lime juice.
I hope you have a happy National Heart Month and we’ll see you next time!
Michelle Yates, RD, LMNT, is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, specializing in the Medical/Surgical unit & the Oncology unit. She doubles as a dance instructor as well as a master’s student for Health Psychology. Her passions are to help others break free from any negative ideas of food they carry, along with opening their eyes to the joys of “everything in moderation”.