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Cook for a Healthy Heart

Imagine a dinner plate towering with fresh greens, ripe cherry tomatoes, bright orange shredded carrots, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Sounds healthy, right? Now picture it slathered in full-fat blue cheese dressing. Your mouth may be watering, but your arteries are probably clogging at the thought!

Eating healthy meals is important, but so is making smart choices about how you prepare them. Part of eating a heart-healthy diet means fixing foods using low-sodium, low-fat, and low-cholesterol methods. Follow these tips to make your meals both tasty and heart-friendly:

  • Use low-fat or nonfat dressings and dips for salads and vegetables. Lemon juice, lime juice, or one of the many varieties of vinegar can be delicious.

  • Experiment with herbs (such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary) and spices (such as nutmeg, pepper, and paprika) in place of salt. Fresh garlic or ginger adds loads of flavor, too.

  • Top foods with low-fat or nonfat sour cream or yogurt instead of full-fat versions or butter. Try salsa on baked potatoes.

  • Instead of regular eggs, use commercially made, cholesterol-free egg substitute. You can use the substitute in recipes or, for each egg that’s called for, use one egg white plus 2 teaspoons unsaturated oil.

  • Bake, broil, grill, steam, or microwave foods instead of frying. Or stir-fry or sauté in a nonstick pan using little or no cooking spray or reduced-sodium broth.

  • Place roasting meat on a rack so that fat can drain away. Baste with fat-free liquid, such as wine or tomato juice.

The American Heart Association states that good nutrition is "at the heart of health." Try these recipe tips and make tasty, nutritious eating part of your health plan!