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Nutrition For A Healthy Heart

Does What I Eat Really Matter In Heart Disease Prevention?

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Updated July 15, 2011

Q: What do nutrition labels really mean?

A: For the cook on the go, they are invaluable. Shoppers can quickly determine the calories, fat and cholesterol content, sodium and other nutritional information that help you monitor your intake. On pages 19-21, we give an example of a nutrition label and information relating to reading labels. If I am in a hurry, I spot-check the fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and look for low numbers. Our recipes also include nutrient analyses, which help as well.

Q: Does heart-healthy eating mean no snacks or desserts?

A: Heart-healthy snacks and desserts are the way to go. Busy parents driving their kids to sports and other after-school events can appreciate snacks such as fruits, veggies and unsalted pretzels, wrapped in small airtight containers. Stacked Mushroom Nachos on page 46 are a fun after-school snack. The recipe uses mushrooms, fat-free refried beans, cherry tomatoes and fat-free or reduced-fat shredded cheese.

For dessert, there is a chocolate pudding cake on page 299 that will make anyone a heart-healthy believer! It uses cocoa powder, fat-free milk, and unsweetened applesauce, and is drenched in a pool of rich-tasting pudding sauce that forms as the cake bakes.

Q: What are the best cooking methods for a healthy heart?

  • Broiling (such as the Broiled Salmon-Stuffed Tomatoes on page 118)

  • Grilling (such as the Grilled Turkey Cutlets with Pineapple, page 181)

  • Sauteing (use a nonstick pan and a small amount of low-sodium broth, juice, or vegetable oil, such as canola)

  • Stir-frying (such as the Asian Pork Stir-Fry on page 217)

  • Baking

  • Braising

Q: There are a lot of conflicting reports about alcohol and women. What are your thoughts?

A: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation--no more than one drink per day for women. Remember, alcohol is full of empty calories too! (7 calories per gram, which is almost as much as fat, which provides 9 calories per gram). If you don't drink--don't start!

Q: Are there any foods that should never be eaten?

A: At the American Heart Association, we say there are no "good foods" or "bad foods." What we do say is that some choices are better than others. For example, fat-free milk is a much better choice than whole milk or 2%, and nonfat all-fruit sorbet is a better choice than ice cream. It's all a matter of choosing carefully from the wide variety of healthful foods that are available.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to help make the transition to heart- healthy foods easier?

A: Incorporate one or two small changes per week. For instance, cook with fat-free milk, and incorporate a fruit or a vegetable into every meal. Enjoy at least three or four heart-healthy recipe ideas per week (such as Greek Green Beans, page 275, Tomato Basil Soup on page 54, and Ambrosia Parfait on page 314), and pretty soon, the heart-healthy choices will dominate your lifestyle.

For personalized help on making your diet more heart healthy, log on to the American Heart Association's brand-new health management program, One Of A Kind. You'll find information on nutrition and other heart disease and stroke risks that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Q: Is there anything else that women should know about-heart healthy eating?

A: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. At last count, about 72 percent of all women raising children also are working outside the home, so having time to cook is an issue. With the American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook, you can create a speedy supper that will be a big hit with the family, and everyone will be eating with his or her heart in mind. You are not alone in the fight against heart disease. With the detailed recipes and information, you will feel like your American Heart Association is right there in the kitchen with you!

A wide variety of information on nutrition and healthy eating can be found at the American Heart Association site where you'll have access to recipes, tips and more!

More About Meals in Minutes - Includes 5 free quick & easy delicious heart-healthy recipes from the American Heart Association's Meals in Minutes Cookbook!

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