Monday, May 04, 2009


Walk the grocery aisles as if it were the Food Pyramid

When at the grocery store, keeping your heart and cardiovascular system healthy can be as simple as shopping the food pyramid.

Grains: 5-8 servings of grains per day. This food group plays an important role in providing essential B vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients. The recommendation for fiber is 25-30 grams per day, and grains can go a long way to meeting that goal.

When shopping look for the following foods:
Whole grain cereals which provide 6 or more grams of fiber per serving.
- 100% whole wheat bread, English muffins and pasta.
- Oatmeal, oat bran, whole grain tortillas and brown rice.
- Quinoa, whole wheat cous cous, Kashi whole grain pilaf.

Fruits: 4-5 servings per day. Choose a variety of fresh, canned or frozen, preferably without sugar or syrup, from this group:
- Incorporate fruit in as snacks, in sandwiches and on salads.
- Consider adding fruit to cereals, both hot and cold.
- Try a smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit added.

Vegetables: 4-5 (1⁄2 cup) portions per day. Again, choose from a variety of fresh, frozen or canned. Look for lower sodium options and avoid butter and cream sauces. Boost your vegetable intake by eating a daily salad; adding sliced tomatoes, peppers or spinach to sandwiches; choosing vegetable soups and pasta primavera; and don’t forget raw veggies for snacks.

Some simple and easy options include:
- Melissa’s peeled and steamed ready to eat baby beets.
- Simply Potatoes mashed sweet potatoes.
- Melissa’s steamed and ready to eat lentils.
- Steam-in-a-bag frozen vegetables.
- Frozen edamame.

Fats: Keep fat choices heart healthy by choosing oils instead of solid fats. Fat that is liquid at room temperature is primarily unsaturated, both mono and polyunsaturated. Examples include: Olive oil, Canola oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil to name a few. Choose:
- Trans-free margarine.
- Fish oil supplements or fish 3 times per week (salmon for example).
- Olive or canola-based cooking sprays.
- Eggs, 2-3 per week.
- Low-fat dairy (skim or fat free yogurt).
- Low-fat cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise or salad dressings.

Dairy: These products can be a significant source of saturated fats: Choose low or fat free dairy foods to promote a healthy heart, including:
- Skim milk (try Hood Simply Smart).
- Low fat cheese and fat free yogurt.
- Consider Greek yogurt, which is an excellent source of protein and low in carbohydrates.
- Light or low-fat ice cream once or twice a week.
- Fat-free half and half.

Meats: Go for the leaner cuts, including:
- Chicken or turkey without skin, 3-4 times per week.
- Fish 2-3 times per week (consider canned salmon vs. tuna)
- Pork or beef 1-2 times per week.
- Consider turkey or chicken sausage.
- Ground turkey breast.
- 93% or leaner ground beef.
- No more than three eggs per week.
-1-2 tablespoons of nuts per day.

You might also consider going vegetarian 1-2 times per week. In addition to reducing the fat in your meal it can also save you money at the grocery store.

Wendy Kane is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in the Backus Hospital Diabetes Management Center. This advice should not replace the advice from your physician. Email Ms. Kane and all the Healthy Living columnists at or comment on their blog at

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