Heart Healthy Cooking Tips
By David Urmann
Taking care of the old ticker requires exercise and a decent diet. There's simply no substitute for either. We'll leave the aerobic concerns to more informed minds and stick to the stuff that goes in the gut, namely the heart healthy foods everyone needs to stay fit, and the heart healthy cooking techniques that keep them that way. There's no substitute for either of those either.
Low saturated fat, low cholesterol dishes are what we're after here, and hold the butter and other added fats. The unhappy fact is that certain ingredients and preparation methods can add unwanted saturated fat and cholesterol to your food.
One can bake without fear, broil to the heart's content and microwave all day (just don't stand too close). Poaching is cool and steaming is even better. Seafood, chicken and vegetables are all good candidates for grilling. Lightly stir-frying or sautéing foods in cooking spray, small mounts of vegetable oil or reduced sodium broth are other healthy options. When roasting even skinless meats it's wise to place meats on a rack so fat can drip away.
There are lots of ways to cut out unwanted saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet that don't take the fun and flavor out of meal time. Butter is not your friend, what with its 8 grams of saturated fat and 11 grams of fat per tablespoon. Salsa is your good buddy though, with 0 grams of saturated fat and 0 cholesterol found in 1/4 of a cup. Creamy salad dressings are notoriously loaded with the bad stuff, while a reduced fat Italian sports only 2 grams of fat and tastes just as good.
There are many fine and tasty herbs, spices and condiments that can add zest to some of the more bland heart health dishes. Herbs include oregano, basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and paprika are all acceptable spices. Along with the reduced fat or nonfat salad dressing and salsa there are old standbys like mustard, catsup, horseradish, reduced fat or nonfat mayonnaise, reduced fat or nonfat sour cream, reduced fat or nonfat yogurt and reduced sodium soy sauce. That's to say nothing of Parmesan cheese, fruit preserves and simple red pepper flakes, none of which will harm you heart.
And there you have it. With a little planning, a bit of knowledge and a smidge of extra effort anyone, can eat right for their heart without giving up a healthy enjoyment of food.
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