To lower your risk of heart disease or to manage your existing disease, try these tips in preparing meals:
Limit Fat, Especially Saturated and Trans Fat
- Select lean cuts of beef and pork, especially cuts with "loin" or "round" in their name.
- Remove all visible fat from meat before cooking. Take the skin off chicken or turkey before eating it.
- Cut back on processed meats high in saturated fat, such as hot dogs, salami and bacon.
- Bake, broil, roast, stew or stir-fry lean meats, fish or poultry.
- Drain the fat off of cooked, ground meat.
- When you make a stew, soup or gravy, refrigerate leftovers and skim off the fat with a spoon before reheating and serving.
- Eat fish regularly. Try different ways of cooking like baking, broiling, grilling and poaching to add variety.
- Include plant foods as sources of protein, including soybeans, pinto beans, lentils and nuts.
- Replace higher-fat cheeses with lower-fat options like reduced-fat feta and part-skim mozzarella.
- Thicken sauces with evaporated fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
- Move toward using lower-fat milk and yogurt. Start with 2 percent products, then move to 1 percent and finally to fat-free to adjust to the new taste.
- Use liquid vegetables oils and soft margarine instead of stick margarine or shortening.
- Limit consumption of cakes, cookies, crackers, pastries, pies, muffins, doughnuts and French fries. These foods tend to be high in trans fats. Many food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their foods. Check ingredient lists on food packages and avoid products containing partially hydrogenated oils.
- Use a small amount of oils such as canola, olive and soybean in recipes and for sautéing.
- Make salad dressings with olive, walnut or pecan oil.
Eat Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Select oils that provide omega-3 fatty acids, such as canola, flaxseed or soybean oil.
- Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings, too.
- Eat two 4-ounce portions of fatty fish each week, like salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (in water, if canned), mackerel and sardines.
- Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label. Remember all egg yolks contain cholesterol.
Reduce Salt (Sodium)
- Prepare foods at home so you can control the amount of salt in your meals.
- Use as little salt in cooking as possible. You can cut at least half the salt from most recipes.
- Add no additional salt to food at the table.
- Select reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups and vegetables.
- Check the Nutrition Facts panel for sodium and choose products with lower sodium content.
- Season foods with herbs, spices, garlic, onions, peppers and lemon or lime juice to add flavor.
Reviewed December 2012