Oils For Cooking and Baking
For a healthy heart, use a liquid fat (oils) instead of a solid fat (butter or margarine) whenever possible when you cook or bake. Oils have less saturated fat (unhealthy) than butter or margarine. Here are some examples of healthy oils: olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, peanut oil or walnut oil.
Margarines and Spreads
Margarine that is trans fat free (listed as partially hydrogenated oil) and that has fewer than 2 grams of saturated fat (unhealthy) per serving is healthier than butter or margarine that has trans fats or has more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. Heart healthy margarines are usually soft and are sold in a tub instead of in stick form.
Choose non-fat (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk more often than whole milk or 2% milk. Nonfat or low-fat milk has less saturated fat than reduced fat (2%) or whole milk. Whole milk or 2% yogurt is good in moderation because the fat can help you feel full for longer.
Try to drink milk without added sugar. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavored milks and flavored milk alternatives (like soy, almond or oat milk) should also be unsweetened or have no sugar added. Use plain yogurt or flavored yogurt with no more than 10 g of total sugar.
Cheeses that say low-fat, reduced-fat or part-skim are tasty alternatives that have less saturated fat (unhealthy).
Try plain or Greek yogurt that is nonfat or has fewer than 10g of total sugar as a healthy snack and a good alternative for sour cream.
Grains and Beans
Ground flaxseed has a lot of nutrients that are good for your heart, like omega-3s, fiber and lignans. Sprinkle 1-2 Tablespoons on oatmeal, soup or yogurt, or in smoothies. If a recipe calls for 2 or more cups of flour, you can also replace ¼ to ½ of a cup of flour with ground flaxseed.
Shelled edamame, or soy beans without the shells, is also a heart-healthy choice. You can find edamame in the freezer section at the grocery store.
Nuts, Seeds and Nut Butters
Choose peanut butter and other nut butters that say all-natural on the label. Read the ingredients to make sure the peanut butter or nut butter doesn’t have added sugar or unhealthy oils, like trans fats (listed as partially hydrogenated oil).
Eating nuts and seeds is good for your heart and makes for a healthy, tasty snack. Eat a mix of your favorites, like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Salmon is packed with nutrients that are good for your heart. You can have salmon many ways, like fresh, frozen, canned or smoked. Children should have 3 oz. of salmon two times a week for healthy hearts. A 3 oz. serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
Heart-Healthy Scavenger Hunt
Complete this scavenger hunt on your next trip to the grocery store or while you look through your pantry. Be sure to share your answers with your Registered Dietitian at your next appointment.
Registered Dietitian: ____________________
Next Appointment: ____________________
- Unsaturated fats are healthy for your heart because they can lower bad cholesterol.
- Saturated fats are unhealthy because they raise bad cholesterol in your blood.
- Trans fats are unhealthy because they raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
- How many grams of saturated fat are in 1 serving of olive oil?
- What are the other types of fat in olive oil? Are they healthy or unhealthy?
- How many grams of saturated fat are in 1 serving of butter?
- What is a buttery spread (soft margarine in a tub) that has 2 grams of saturated fat or fewer per serving?
- How many grams of trans fat are in that buttery spread? Hint: Check the ingredient list. Is trans fat healthy or unhealthy?
- How many grams of saturated fat does a stick of margarine have?
- How many grams of trans fat does a stick of margarine have?
- Find your favorite peanut butter or nut butter. What are the healthy ingredients? What are the unhealthy ingredients?
- Does your favorite peanut butter or nut butter have saturated fat? How do you know?
- Does your favorite peanut butter or nut butter have any trans fat? How do you know?
Rev. 10/2014. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.