Healthy eating starts with having the right heart-healthy foods in your kitchen. They help lower cholesterol and keep your blood pressure in check. If you aren't sure which foods to buy, print this list to take to the supermarket.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, fruits and veggies also have fiber, which lowers cholesterol and improves heart health. Pull them out first when you want something to eat. Remember, you need 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Bell peppers
- Dark leafy greens
Dairy and Dairy Alternatives: Dairy is a great source of calcium. Just skip the cream, and choose low-fat or nonfat options.
- Buttermilk, low-fat or nonfat
- Cheese, nonfat or reduced-fat
- Cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, nonfat or 1%
- Cream cheese, nonfat or light
- Creamers, nonfat
- Milk, skim or 1%
- Sour cream, nonfat
- Yogurt, nonfat or 1%
Soy milk, almond milk, and other non-dairy products may also be options. Check to see if they're fortified with calcium and other nutrients. When shopping for these drinks, choose the unsweetened products to avoid added sugar.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Meat Substitutes: The American Heart Association suggests two servings of fish a week. Eat more heart-healthy tofu and other soy protein, too. Limit fatty cuts of meat.
- Beef, lean cuts and lean ground round or sirloin
- Chicken or turkey breasts and tenders, skinless, boneless
- Chicken or turkey, ground
- Fish, high in omega-3s, such as herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna
- Pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
Frozen Foods: When your favorite fruits and veggies are out of season, choose frozen ones for nutritious desserts, side dishes, and snacks.
- Fruits without added sugar (for example, frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
- Soybeans (edamame)
- Vegetables and vegetable blends without added sauce, gravy, or sodium
Beans, Grains, Soups, and Sauces: Beans and whole grains offer fiber to help lower your cholesterol.
- Beans, canned, reduced-sodium: assorted cans of beans such as black, garbanzo, kidney, navy, and pinto
- Beans, dried: Choose your favorite beans.
- Broth, reduced-sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable
- Cereals, whole-grain (Note: Choose cereals that have 5 or more grams of dietary fiber and fewer than 8 grams of sugar per serving.)
- Flaxseed, ground or whole
- Flour, whole wheat
- Grains such as wheat berries, couscous, polenta, millet, bulgur, and quinoa
- Oat bran
- Oats, rolled, steel-cut, or Irish
- Pasta sauce, low-fat or fat-free
- Pasta, whole wheat, spelt, or kamut (Note: These whole-grain pastas come in bowtie, fettuccini, lasagna, spaghetti, fusilli, spiral, elbow macaroni, and ravioli varieties.)
- Rice: brown, wild, and brown basmati
- Soups, low-sodium, and 98% fat-free cream of mushroom
- Soy flour
- Tomato paste
- Tomatoes, whole or diced, reduced-sodium
- Vegetarian or nonfat refried beans
Condiments: Watch out for high amounts of salt in condiments and sauces. Even small amounts add up fast.
- Barbecue sauce, low-sodium
- Ketchup, reduced-sodium
- Mayonnaise, reduced-fat or nonfat
- Mustards: whole grain, honey, Dijon, yellow
- Soy sauce, reduced-sodium
- Vinegars: rice, red wine, balsamic, apple cider, raspberry. These make delicious salad dressings.
Fats and Cooking Oils: Cut down on butter in your cooking. Instead, use healthier oils, like olive and canola.
- Margarine, trans-fat-free
- Nonfat cooking sprays
- Nonhydrogenated shortening
- Oils, olive and canola
- Replacements for fat when baking, such as applesauce, fruit puree, or yogurt
- Salad dressings, reduced-fat or nonfat
Snacks: Stock your pantry with nuts, dried fruit, and whole wheat products for snacks and meals.
- Nuts and seeds, assorted, raw (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
- Breads, tortillas, pitas, whole-grain
- Crackers, whole-grain, trans-fat-free
- Dried fruits
- Popcorn cakes or brown rice cakes
- Popcorn, plain or light microwave
- Pretzels, whole-grain
- Tortilla chips, baked, trans-fat-free
Spices vs. Salt: Too much salt drives up your blood pressure. Instead, add flavor with zesty spices and herbs. Options include:
- Bay leaves
- Black pepper
- Caraway seeds
- Chili powder
- Chinese five-spice
- Curry powder
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Sodium-free seasonings
Sweeteners: Cut down on sugar. It's full of calories that will pack on pounds. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier options -- although the less you use of any sweeteners, the better.
- Brown rice syrup for a sweetening alternative in baking
- Honey (in moderation)
- Sugar-free or "light" maple syrups