Kitchen Kings: The Best Ways to Amp Up Your Heart Health

Heart-healthy eating starts in the kitchen, which means that you need to get your kitchen wellness on track if you want to protect your family from heart problems. Here are seven simple tips to help you do it:


1. Switch to heart healthy cooking oils: It’s better for your wellness if you choose cooking fats that have minimal levels of saturated fat and trans fat, and high levels of healthier fats like monounsaturated fats and omega-3s. Therefore, you should do most of your cooking with canola oil, and then use olive oil in any recipe that works. Olive oil contains the most monounsaturated fat, very little saturated fat, and phytochemicals which are helpful for your wellbeing. You can also use safflower, sunflower, soybean, or flaxseed oil.


2. Switch to a better margarine: When you can’t replace margarine or butter with canola oil, make sure you choose a margarine that’s low in saturated fat (two grams or less per tablespoon) and contains no trans fats at all. For an added bonus, look for ones with omega-3 fats.


3. Have a clear out: Junk food is defined by two characteristics: an absence of nutrients and an overabundance of fat, sodium, or sugar. All these complementary wellness techniques are useless if you have a pantry full of junk food, so clear your kitchen of junk and replace these foods with healthier alternatives. Look at the labels on all the foods in your fridge, freezer and cupboards, and see which are really not worth holding onto.


4. Watch out for calorie boosters: It’s easy to spot junk foods like crisps and chocolate, but some ingredients can really sneak up on you if you’re not careful, and load your meal with fat, calories and cholesterol. You should think “red flag” whenever you come across regular mayonnaise, bacon and bacon grease, heavy and light whipping cream, half-and-half cream, puff pastry, full-fat cheese, sausage, coconut oil, butter, and pie crust dough.


5. Fill your fridge with heart-smart foods you can’t live without: Find out what your favourite frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables are, and then add in wholegrain products that can make for a quick lunch or entrée. Whole-wheat pitas and tortillas, and wholegrain pasta cooked al dente and chilled in the fridge are great options. Then, fill your fridge with lean meats and vegetarian substitutes, low-fat dairy products such as low-fat yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese, skimmed milk, and sugar-free beverages that you like to drink, such as iced green tea and mineral water.


6. Make your freezer convenience food as healthy as possible: Sometimes you don’t eat fruit and vegetables because you haven’t got any fresh ones in, but this is where the freezer is your friend. If you’ve always got frozen fruit and veg to hand, you’ll never have an excuse to not add them to your meals. Keep frozen blueberries and raspberries for mixing into muffin and pancake batter and for topping oatmeal or waffles, and frozen broccoli florets, baby carrots, or frozen mixed vegetables for a quick side dish or for mixing in with the entree.


7. Make a few sneaky substitutions: If recipe instructions call for unhealthy ingredients, try using healthier alternatives. If you’re making macaroni and cheese from a packet and it calls for butter, for example, add a tablespoon or two of heart-smart margarine and a tablespoon or two of fat-free sour cream to make up the difference. Also, look on the label to see if the product already contains fat, as this may mean you can skip adding fat altogether and instead add – depending on the product – fat-free sour cream (for use in a cream pasta product), low-sodium broth (for use in a stuffing mix), low-fat yoghurt (for use in a muffin mix), strong coffee (for use in a brownie or cake mix) and applesauce.

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