Heart Smart Substitutions

Menu PlanningThe foods you eat play a big role in keeping your heart healthy. Here’s how to put a healthier lifestyle into practice at your dining table:

  • Replace red meat with a few ounces of fatty fish, such as salmon. Research suggests that eating about 8 ounces of fatty fish per week cuts the risk of dying from heart disease. The oil in fish may steady the heart’s rhythm and lower triglycerides—a blood fat linked to heart disease.
  • Season food with herbs and spices, rather than salt. Eating too much sodium ups the chances of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Older adults, African-Americans, and people with high blood pressure—who together make up almost 70 percent of the American population—should eat only 1,500 milligrams or less of sodium each day. Other adults should aim for 2,300 mg or less.
  • Packing a lunch? Steer clear of a lot of processed foods, which are high in sodium. Instead, include plenty of fruits and vegetables. For your heart’s sake, you might want to choose potassium-rich ones, such as leafy greens, grapes, and carrots. While sodium can raise blood pressure, potassium helps lower it.
  • Cook with olive oil instead of butter or polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as corn oil. Olive oil can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and boost HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
  • Snack on walnuts, almonds, and other unsalted nuts instead of chips or other refined carbohydrates, which can increase triglycerides. Nuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid, a substance that helps regulate heart rhythm.

Feeling hungry? Try this recipe for spinach-stuffed baked salmon.