Tasty Heart-Healthy Diet Makeovers

  • Question: When is supposed “healthy” food actually bad for your heart? Answer: When it’s filled with everything that’s not good for your heart, in other words, when they’re impostors. Thankfully, it’s easy to switch out those fakes for foods with actual nutritional value. ThirdAge invites you to read on for the truth about health food imposters and the real deals are that will keep your ticker is great shape. Bonus: We're listing good-for-you choices that are packed with flavor.
  • Protein Even though that blueberry muffin may be easy to get and delicious, it doesn’t have everything that your body needs to start the day off right. Muffins are generally loaded with sugar and refined flour. These ingredients will give you energy temporarily by spiking your blood sugar, but this will lead to a crash. Then you'll try to regain the fix by loading up on still more sugar-filled snacks. Avoid this unhealthy pattern by starting your day off with a lean protein for energy. A great example is an omelette made with egg whites and veggies.
  • Make Your Own Smoothie Smoothies that you purchase at your local coffee shop or smoothie place tend to be loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, why not create delicious and healthier versions at home? This is easier than you may think. A particular favorite includes bananas, vanilla yogurt, and canned pumpkin. Then throw in some mango juice or soy milk, toss a couple of ice cubes into the blender, and you’re all set. If you want to sweeten it up a little, add in a dash of honey. Sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg on top, and you have a tasty, heart-healthy smoothie. Best of all, it cost a lot less than store-bought varieties.
  • Get Fresh Dried fruits are okay if EATEN in moderation. Registered dietician and heart-healthy cooking teacher Jill Nussinow says “Fresh fruit is better than dried because dried fruit is dense in calories. Drying decreases volume a lot. Each dried apricot half is truly half an apricot, and sometimes you only get 10% to 25% of what you started with. This means that it’s much easier to eat more of the dried fruits, and it’s a concentrated source of calories.”
  • DIY Trail Mix Granola bars are a really bad choice because the substance used to bind all of the ingredients together is some form of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Instead, create your own trail mix. Take a handful of walnuts (fantastic for the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids), add another handful of whole grain toasted oat cereal, and then half a handful of dried berries (preferably cranberries.) Toss all the ingredients into a baggie, shake them up, and head out the door. Wasn't that quick and easy?
  • Ease up on the Mayo and Other Non-Essentials Tuna is great for you, but not when it’s prepared with lots of mayo, a hunk of cheese, and served with heavy white bread that's packed with suga). Your calorie and cholesterol count increases exponentially if this is the way you eat your tuna. As a healthy alternative, skip the mayo and replace it with spicy mustard. You could ass some grated carrots for Vitamin A. Replace the cheese with a slice of tomato. Serve it all on whole grain bread for extra fiber, and you’re set with a meal that is chock full of nutritional value for your heart and body.
  • Simplify the Salad Caesar salads have an extremely high count in both calories and grams of fat. Many of the recipes include a cup of mayonnaise! Instead, try to use small splashes of olive oil and champagne vinegar over the greens. You will get all the flavor at a fraction of the calories. Rather than drizzling the dressing over your salad, make the dressing first, and then dip the greens into it. You will use less dressing by doing this.
  • Lay off the Beef Registered dietician and heart healthy-cooking teacher Jill Nussinow says “People think that eating beef will make them big and strong. And they are right about the big part. Lean beef may be better for you than fatty beef, but neither is very good for you, especially in the amounts that are consumed by people in the U.S. “ She goes on to say that instead of beef, beans are a great alternative. They are generally low in fat, have no cholesterol, and contain fiber, which is known for lowering cholesterol.
  • Eat Apples Applesauce may seem healthy , and yes it is better than no fruit at all. But real apples are much better for you. According to Nussinow, it’s best to eat food the way it comes from nature. “If the skin is removed from apples while they are processed, you’re getting less fiber with your applesauce.” Also, in general, processing foods increases their glycemic index and that can increase blood sugar faster. She goes on to say that applesauce is full of sweeteners and thickening ingredients.
  • Greek Style Yogurts are the Way To Go Traditional Greek style yogurts are thick and creamy and as satisfying as ice cream sundae that can be devastating for your heart health. The Fage brand offers different flavors of yogurt with no added sweeteners and a big dose of active cultures -- the good kind of bacteria. The yogurt is made from all-natural ingredients and is a good source of protein too. All the varieties make a great snacks, and the plain version can be used in recipes instead of sour cream.