Your Grocery Guide for a Healthier Heart
We know that a healthy diet can do wonders for our hearts, but what foods should we be putting in our grocery carts – and which should we be leaving on the shelves?
“When we talk to patients about adopting a ‘heart-healthy diet,’ we recommend focusing on adding more vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, while limiting meats and dairy, as well as advocating use of unsaturated fats from seeds, nuts and olives,” says Hollie Seward, an outpatient nurse practitioner with the Heart Center at Pali Momi Medical Center.
You may have heard of this diet referred to as the “Mediterranean diet” or as a “plant-based diet” – either way, the focus of this diet is on incorporating as many fresh, wholesome food choices as possible, while eliminating highly processed foods.
“Studies show that this combination really helps reduce cardiovascular risk for conditions such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and high cholesterol,” Seward says. “Due to the diet being low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and high in fiber, it has been associated with weight loss, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and even lowering glucose in those with diabetes.”
When browsing the supermarket aisles, Deans advises sticking to the perimeter of the store, where most of the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats are.
Also, don’t fall for healthy claims on food labels. Read the ingredient list instead.
“I generally try to avoid labels like ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’; many highly processed foods like Twinkies could still be considered vegan, so I feel ‘plant-based’ kind of gives more of a direction to the patient,” Seward says.
Get creative with your heart-healthy diet by exploring new food options and recipes, like this Tex-Mex Tortilla Pie, which uses whole beans in place of ground beef or refried beans to reduce the amount of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in the dish.
“There is a lot more out there than just eating salad, grilled chicken breast, broiled fish, cut up fruit and steamed vegetables and brown rice,” Seward says. “There are lots of different grains – one of my favorites is farro. It’s a hearty, nutty grain that I find adds substance to salads and even is good as a stand-alone as the main meal. Also, did you know you can make ‘ice cream’ from frozen bananas and soymilk? That is another one of my favorites and a winner in our household. Plus you don’t feel too guilty going for seconds!”
Ready to get shopping?
Download the PDFs for our “Healthier Grocery List” to take with you on your next trip to the market.
Don’t feel like you have to check off every item – pick and choose the foods that fit your preference best, experiment with new choices, and most importantly, have fun!
Published on: February 15, 2023