Diet has a direct role to achieve a healthier heart. It does not have to be difficult to change your food and cooking methods if it has a positive impact on heart health. What’s more, when you change your diet you will look and feel better, have more energy and be more productive. Here are some cooking tips that will help you:
Switch your cooking oil – use heart-healthy oils that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. The better oils are olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. Use a mixture of oils in your cooking as extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed oils are usually best used uncooked in dips, dressings, and salads while other oils lend themselves to cooking at medium temperatures or for baking.
Use less oil anyway – reduce your consumption of oil and fats. Avoid fried foods as far as possible and bake, steam or microwave your food.
Eat complex carbohydrates – select wholewheat or multi-grain bread and whole cereals that need to be cooked rather than processed ones. If you buy your bread from an artisanal bakery, you will be sure you are not getting trans fats, sugar, sodium, and other additives and fillers.
Switch to brown rice – now you do get quick-cooking brown rice, with a nutty flavor and a great texture, so avoid the highly polished white rice grains that are highly refined.
Eat more fruits and vegetables – American nutritional guidelines say you should have nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Compared to meat and cereals, these are low in calories and packed with nutrition that aid heart health. Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables for extra nutrition and give the canned ones a miss. Don’t count potatoes and sweet potatoes or other starchy vegetables as a ‘vegetable’ serving, rather as a carbohydrate serving.
Baking at home – substitute refined flour, cake flour, self-raising flour with wholewheat flour at least to the extent of 50 percent or use recipes that call for whole-grain flours.
Eat at home – home-cooked meals are the best because you have greater control over what you’re buying, preparing and eating. The people who eat more home-cooked meals are healthier than those who are constantly eating out research shows.
Cook and eat beans – many beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses and are high in protein so are and great and cheap substitute for meat in the diet. They can also be combined with vegetables, used in baked dishes, had in soup and in pasta. Many beans do require pre-soaking before cooking as they take time to cook.
Eat cheese – avoid highly processed and often ‘fake’ cheeses and cheese products, opting for fresh cheeses that are unprocessed. You can also substitute cheese with tofu, cottage cheese, feta or ricotta. When you buy processed cheeses opt for the low-fat ones.
Dairy – if you are not lactose intolerant you can have low-fat milk and yogurt. These are low in calories, high in protein and calcium. Low-fat milk can be used for cooking and low-fat yogurt can substitute for cream or sour cream, depending on what you are making.
Reduce salt – added salt is not good for heart health, so add herbs, spices, and condiments that will add taste and flavor to your food rather than over-salting the food.
These small cooking substitutions and changes will go a long way toward achieving heart health.