Picking Out Heart Healthy Foods

I had the opportunity this week to speak with Ericka Flye, a reporter for RTV6 about heart healthy foods. I have worked closely with the American Heart Association here in Indianapolis and I was contacted by their media person to see if I could be interviewed. I of course said yes and we put together a fun grocery store tour segment where we walked about Kroger in Fishers and talked about heart healthy food options. 

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Most grocery stores are decided with the fresh foods around the parameter of the store and the processed/shelf stable food items at the center of the store. Try to stick with shopping around the parameter of the store. When you enter the grocery store you normally arrive at the produce section. This is a great place to start because all of these produce items are very heart healthy. They naturally do not contain any sodium or fat! That is a the goal with a heart healthy diet to limit your consumption of sodium (or salt) and fat. Try to pick a variety of colorful produce items. Also try to pick out some new foods that maybe you haven't tried before. If you don't know how to cook or prepare that new produce item, look it up on Google and you can quickly find a recipe or how to cut up that food item. 

From the produce section we worked out way over to the deli and cheese counter. There are lots of options over here that are filled with sodium and added fat. The key is moderation. Dairy items and even processed meats can fit into a heart healthy diet, but in limited amounts. The nice thing about some of the Kroger Marketplaces is they carry Boar's Head meats and cheeses and they have lower sodium options. Check out the deli counter and look for the American Heart Association label on their lower sodium deli options. 

After checking out the deli counter we walked to the meat section. There are tons of options of types of meat from fish to turkey and beef. The key to find a heart healthy meat item is to read the percentage of fat to meat comparison and aim for the higher meat percentage. For example, try to purchase the 90% meat and 10% fat ground meat option compared with the standard 80% meat and 20% fat option. This will be the more heart healthy choice. Lots of people think that just because they are choosing turkey or chicken it is automatically healthier, but not really. Beef can fit into a heart healthy diet as well if is ground sirloin and is a lean cut. 

From the meat section we walked to check out the milk and eggs. These are both an important part of a heart healthy diet. You can have a whole egg a day while still following the heart healthy recommendations. If you want more than one egg in scrambled eggs or an omelet you can take 1 whole egg and then mix in additional egg whites to make a healthier fluffy egg scramble. When picking out a milk option choose 1% or skim milk because that has the least amount of milk fat remaining. This is the more heart healthy option.

The last area that we visited was the frozen food section. This area is where you will find lots of high sodium and high calorie food items. They key is to watch your portion sizes and then to make sure that you are reading how much sodium is in each of the items that you are consuming. Try to limit your consumption of these pre-prepared food items. Always read the labels and know what is in the food items that you purchase. 

We had a great time walking about the grocery store and checking out what items you should put in your cart to make heart healthy choices. You will have to check out the segment that will air on RTV6 at the end of the month. Thanks to Ericka Flye for a great interview and the American Heart Association for reaching out to me to help with this nutrition segment! 

LOVE Your Heart

Well February is upon us and that means it is time to think about your heart health. Even if heart disease doesn't run in your family, taking the time and making you are making heart healthy choices can improve the quality of your life. 

What is a heart healthy diet? A heart healthy diet is one that is low in animal fats and high in plant based fats. This also includes consuming fish on a regular basis. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in fish have been associated with lower risks of heart disease. Consuming more a more plant based diet as also been found to help heart healthy and improve your body composition. People who were of normal body weight had less instance of heart-related medical complications and lived healthier lives overall. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put together a great list of cooking changes that you can makes for your heart health. Make sure that you are limiting your saturated fats (from animal sources) and trans fats (man made fats, found in some margarine products). When cooking animal meats, make sure to drain off extra fat or grill the meat so that the fat falls away from the meat when cooking. If you consume high amounts of saturated (animal) fats this type of fat can build up in your arteries and this can lead to a blockage/heart attack. That is why a lower fat, more plant based diet is recommended. 

Put down that salt shaker. In addition to watching the amount of fat in your diet, keeping an eye out for the amount of sodium in foods will go a long way in blood pressure control. If you have a history of hypertension, or if it runs in your family, then taking the time to watch your sodium intake can help keep your heart beating strong. Lots of fast food or pre-made, frozen entrees have a fair amount of added salt to help with the favor and preservation of the food. That is why when you can prepare meals at home, from scratch, that will go a long way in limiting the amount of added salt you consume each day. Make sure that you are not adding salt to your meals after they have been cooked. That is why moving the salt shaker off the table and into the spice cabinet can limit your added salt intake. If possible, purchase lower salt food items - low salt diced tomato or chicken stock, low salt lunch meat or sliced deli cheese. These little changes can help with your blood pressure control. 

Move more. You can never under estimate the benefit of being physically active. Exercising helps your heart by having it beat harder and grow stronger. Your heart is a muscle and for it is stay strong it needs to be worked out. That means scheduling time to be physically active will help your heart to stay strong and continue to beat for a long time to come. Exercise can look different for different people. Find something that you enjoy and do that activity on a regular basis. If you enjoy exercise classes, find a gym and attend classes that you enjoy. 

Hopefully you can take some of these tips and recommendations and put them into use this month to help show your heart some love!