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10 Tips for Planning a Heart Healthy Grocery List

June 12, 2015

By: Courtney Riffe, nutrition manager and dietician at Emerald Heights

Whether you have made a New Year resolution to eat healthier or your doctor has recommended it, shopping for heart healthy snacks and meals is challenging. Most of us don’t know what eating with your heart in mind means.

Heart healthy eating involves limiting foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and increasing foods high in fiber.  Speak to your doctor about learning your unique goals for fat, calories and sodium intake.

While you are scanning the isles of the grocery store, be sure to read the nutrition labels carefully; some products labeled healthy or organic are high in sodium and fat.

Keep in mind these ten tips while choosing heart healthy options when grocery shopping:

  1. If your doctor suggests a low sodium diet, try to choose foods with less than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving.
    1. Beware of packaged and processed foods, which are often high in fat and sodium
    2. Look for snack foods without added salt—nuts, seeds and pretzels are great options
  2. When buying fruits and vegetables keep in mind that fresh is best! However, buy in moderation because fresh produce will spoil faster than frozen or canned.
  3. If you choose to buy frozen or canned produce, read the label to find options without added sauces, salt or sugar.
  4. Breads, cereals and grains should have whole grains listed as the first ingredient (i.e. whole wheat, rye or oats).
    1. Select breads with at least 2 grams fiber per serving
    2. Select cereals with at least 5 grams fiber per serving
    3. Watch for sodium if you are on a reduced-sodium meal plan
  5. Nonfat, also known as skim, and one percent milk and dairy products are best. Also, look for cheeses that are low in saturated fat and sodium.
  6. When buying turkey, chicken or a white meat, choose selections without the skin.
  7. Beef and veal with less marbling (fat), such are a round steak, tenderloin or sirloin are better options.
  8. Aim to incorporate fish into your diet at least twice a week; Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids which can help lower elevated triglyceride levels, and ultimately help relieve rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions.
  9. If you are a vegetarian or prefer meatless options; beans, veggie burgers and tofu are typically low in fat and are great sources of protein and fiber.
  10. Canned meats and fish, such as tuna, can be high in sodium so be sure to check the label.

Reading labels is essential to having a healthy diet. Keep these tips in the forefront of your mind next time you grab your go-to jar of peanut butter or selection of yogurt. Feel free to connect with me and the food and beverage staff to learn more on specialized diets and to create a specialized meal plan.