A healthy diet can be easy and affordable. Rather than spending money on low quality junk foods, try to stock your cupboard and fridge with healthier options such as wholemeal bread, muesli, oats, low sugar fruit or yoghurt. Choose a variety of vegetables and aim to eat dark green vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and kale at least three times per week.
- Cardiologist Dr. Beth Abramson recommended heart-healthy versions of classic foods.
- “Fry less, broil more, bake more,” she said.
- She recommended making French toast with skimmed milk and egg white and baking it.
While most people want to live healthier lives, cutting down on your favorite foods can be a hard sell.
So we asked Dr. Beth Abramson, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and co-chair of the American College of Cardiology Hypertension Working Group, to share some simple food swaps that make eating a heart-healthy diet easy.
Chicken instead of beef burgers
The next time you’re craving a burger, Abramson recommended making your own — and cutting the red meat.
The American Heart Association encourages limiting the amount of red meat in our diets because it contains more saturated fat than other protein sources such as chicken, fish, and plants. Saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels, putting you at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
One study found that eating red meat daily triples the levels of a chemical in the body that is linked to heart disease.
With this in mind, Abramson feeds her family chicken burgers or makes a patty from minced chicken, which she sometimes adds veal to.
“That’s a nice way to cut down on some of the red meat content, but feel like you’re having a hamburger,” she said.
Baked instead of fried chicken
Instead of having fried chicken, dripping in oil, Abramson likes to bake chicken fingers.
Research shows a link between eating fried foods and a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
“Fry less, broil more, bake more,” she said.
To make the fingers, she takes raw chicken strips, coats them in low-calorie, low-fat salad dressing — as an alternative to egg yolk, which is high in cholesterol — and covers them in breadcrumbs. While most healthy people can eat eggs without having to worry about cholesterol, research suggests people with certain conditions such as diabetes may need to be more careful.
The fingers are then baked and you end up with a healthy fried chicken alternative.
There are plenty of other ways to swap frying for baking to make your diet that little bit healthier, she said, including when choosing snacks.
Baked instead of fried chips
We should be cutting down on snacks that are high in saturated fats, like fried potato chips, she said, and we should read the food labels so we know what we’re eating.
Swap butter for milk in French toast
Even French toast, which is traditionally fried in butter which contains a lot of saturated fat, can be made in a healthy way, Abramson said. She will dip her bread in skimmed milk with an egg and then bake it.
“This way tastes just as good,” she said.
Abramson said you can also cut out the yolk of the egg.
Frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
Dairy is good for our bones, especially in children, but Abramson recommended eating lower-fat dairy to reduce how much cholesterol we consume.
So, for an after-dinner treat, she prefers frozen yogurt over ice cream.
But she added people can do “everything in moderation… Except smoking.”
“If you really like that rich cheese, allow yourself to have that treat once a month or so,” she said.