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    5 Superfoods for a Healthy Heart

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    Make Over Your Kitchen for a Healthy Heart

    8 ways to stock your kitchen for heart health.

    1. Switch to Heart-Smart Cooking Oils

    It makes nutritional sense to choose cooking fats that have the least amount of saturated fat and trans fat, and the most healthful fats (omega-3s and monounsaturated fats). When you do this, you end up with a couple of oils in your kitchen:

    • Canola oil for most of your cooking. Canola oil is lower in saturated fat compared to many other oils. It is high in monounsaturated fat and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Olive oil when it works in the recipe. Olive oil contains the most monounsaturated fat, very little saturated fat, and some helpful phytochemicals that are found in olives. Olive oil tastes great, so use this oil when you want to impart flavor.
    • Other oils such as safflower, sunflower, soybean, or flaxseed oil are additional heart-healthy fats that can also be used.

    2. Switch to a Better Margarine for Table Use and Some Baking

    If a recipe calls for melted margarine or butter, you can usually replace it with canola oil. But there are times when margarine is required: to spread on toast, to make cookie dough, or for the added flavor. To qualify as a better margarine that you store in the refrigerator, margarine should have a little less fat than butter or stick margarine (around 8 grams of fat per tablespoon works well), the smallest amount of saturated fat possible (2 grams of saturated fat or less per tablespoon) and no trans fat. These margarines should also contain mostly monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat, and for and added bonus, look for ones with omega-3 fats.

    3. De-Junk Your Pantry

    Two characteristics define junk food -- the absence of nutritional value (fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, etc.) and the overabundance of fat, sodium, or sugar. This describes many of the foods Americans know and love: fast food, soda, candy bars, chips, doughnuts, ice cream, and more. One of the keys to making over your kitchen is to de-junk your pantry.

    Fill your pantry with healthier foods and products that you enjoy eating:

    • Instead of Pop Tarts, have some low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber protein or granola bars; whole-grain, low-sugar breakfast cereals; or low-sugar instant oatmeal packets.
    • Instead of chips or cheese puffs, stock your pantry with low-salt mixed nuts, reduced-fat whole grain crackers (hopefully lower in sodium), whole grain pretzels, or light popcorn, which is also a whole grain.

    It's always a great idea to keep your pantry well-stocked with products that you tend to use in your healthful cooking. Some examples:

    • Lower-sodium broth and reduced-fat soups
    • Whole-grain noodles
    • Brown rice
    • Canned tuna packed in water
    • Sardines
    • Bottled marinara sauce
    • Whole-wheat flour
    • Canned beans
    • Fat-free refried beans
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    Which smart snack do you favor?