Diet and Nutrition – Key to a “heart healthy” lifestyle

Key to a “heart healthy” lifestyle includes regular exercise and choosing healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.   The way we prepare those foods is just as important.  The following tips can help lower your risk of heart disease or help manage your existing disease.


When selecting cuts of beef and pork, select leaner cuts that have “loin” or “round” in their name.

Limit processed meats high in saturated fat including hot dogs, salami and bacon.

With all meats andfish, bake, broil, roast, stew or stir-fry are the healthiest cooking methods.

If sautéing meats, use Pam or olive oil sprays or a tablespoon of canola, olive or soybean oil.  This is a much healthier cooking method than frying in a skillet full of oil.

When reheating leftover soups and stews, be sure to first skim the fat off with a spoon.

Include plant foods such as soybeans, pinto beans, lentils and nuts.

When adding cheese, replace the higher-fat cheeses with reduced-fat feta and part-skim mozzarella.

Replace whole fat milk with evaporated fat-free milk to thicken sauces.

To make a change from whole milk or yogurt to low-fat or fat-free, start with 2%, then try 1% and, finally, fat-free dairy products.  This will help you to gradually adjust to the taste.

For salad dressings, use olive, walnut or pecan oils.

Eat Foods Containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids Regularly

Oils with Omega-3 Fatty Acids are canola, flaxseed or soybean oil.  Sprinkling a teaspoon of ground flaxseed into yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies is another option.

Add walnuts to oatmeal, salads and muffins.

Consumption of 4 ounce portions of fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (canned in water), mackerel or sardines is a great way to increase the amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Some chickens are given a feed that is high in Omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well.  Check the package label when purchasing.

Limit packaged cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, muffins, donuts, French fries and other pre-packaged or frozen foods to avoid trans fats.  Many food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their foods but always check the Nutrition Facts panel to see if it is listed.


By preparing foods at home, you can control the amount of salt/sodium in your meals.  Do not add salt to water for pastas, rice or soups and keep the salt shaker off the table at dinner time.

Select reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups and vegetables and always rinse the canned vegetables before cooking them.

To add flavor to your dishes without adding salt, use herbs, spices, garlic, onions and peppers.  Also, adding lemon or lime juice will add flavor.

My hope is that you take away a few “heart healthy” tips from this blog.

Be Well!

Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Wellness Coach

(Adapted from