How heart-friendly is your kitchen?

To eat a heart healthy diet begins with a heart- friendly kitchen.  When heart-healthy foods are on hand at all times, planning and preparing meals becomes a snap.  It saves you time and stress over deciding what to have for busy days and weeknights when you may not have time to stop at the grocery store.  Having heart-friendly foods available puts you in control with less worry and more time to enjoy a nutritious meal. 

A heart-healthy or well-stocked kitchen means what you’ll find in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  Making simple yet healthy changes adds up over time to a healthier you. 

The best way to learn and begin is to list foods to phase-in (heart-friendly foods) and foods to phase-out (heart-unfriendly foods):

Phase-in Foods

  1. Homemade dressings, marinades and sauces
  2. Plain, low-fat yogurt.  Add real fruit, nuts, or seeds
  3. Whole-grains: barley, quinoa, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, bulgur, and 100% whole wheat bread and crackers
  4. Low-fat milk, unsweetened iced tea, coffee, flat or sparkling water
  5. Legumes: black, white, navy, kidney, garbanzo beans, lentils, peas and edamame
  6. Fresh or frozen fruits and veggies
  7. Plant-based fats: avocados, nuts and nut-butters and plant-oils (olive, flax, walnut)
  8. Canned fish: herring, tuna, salmon, sardines

Phase-out Foods

  1. Store-bought dressings, marinades and sauces
  2. Fruit-flavored or “fruit on the bottom” yogurts
  3. Refined grains: couscous, pasta, white or flavored rice and enriched breads and cereals
  4. Sugary drinks: flavored waters, sweetened teas and juices
  5. Canned baked beans, chilis and soups
  6. Mashed potatoes and veggies with added cream and butter; fruit canned in heavy syrup
  7. Margarine, butter, mayonnaise, lard, animal fats
  8. Preserved meats, fried fish, poultry and meat

If food budgeting is a concern, here are some budget shopping and better eating tips so you can still eat healthy without breaking the bank:

·         Purchase frozen fruits and vegetables in the off season.  Purchase locally grown produce in-season, when they are less expensive.

·         Buy in bulk things like nuts, grains, dried fruit, and whole-wheat pasta.

·         Menu planning saves time and money.  Work leftovers into your menus.

·         Store brands are often cheaper than using coupons.  Coupons may save money but they are often for highly processed foods.

·         Get your omega-3’s economically from canned salmon, sardines, and herring.