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Heart Healthy Shopping Guide

What you eat is a huge factor when it comes to taking care of your heart and overall health. Watch our instructional videos on heart healthy shopping to learn what you should be putting in your cart the next time you are at the grocery store.

Nutrition Facts - Fat & Cholesterol

  • Memorial Hermann Clinical Dietician Specialist, Sharon Smalling, MPH, RD, LD, discusses the importance of a healthy diet when it comes to taking care of your heart.
  • Not smoking and exercising are important to heart health, but what you eat is probably the biggest factor in having a healthy heart.
  • What you eat depends on what you buy at the grocery store. So let's brush up on a few nutrition facts before we go shopping.
  • Remember to avoid saturated fats and trans fatty acids, these can raise your LDL cholesterol levels.

Produce Aisle - Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

  • Many plant based foods are high in the following vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for heart health:
    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin C
    • Soluble fiber
    • Minerals
    • Antioxidants
    • Phytochemicals
  • Look for bright deep colors when choosing your produce.

The Bakery - Bread & Whole Grains

  • Whole grain breads are a great source of fiber.
  • They also help with weight management, helping to fill you up fast and stay full.
  • Great source of B vitamins which help in lowering homocysteine levels which can be a factor in heart health.
  • Whole grain breads help you reach the goal of 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

Protein - Fish & Meats

  • Fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Look for leaner cuts of meat with less marbling.
  • Chicken & turkey are good sources of protein but avoid the skin which contains most of the fat.
  • Avoid pre-marinated and processed meats.

Bulk Foods Aisle - Nuts & More

  • Bulk foods are typically:
    • Nuts
    • Grains
    • Beans
    • Cereals
    • Dried fruit
    • These items contain lots of fiber, B vitamins and folic acid which are great for heart health.

  • Sunflower seeds are also found here which may help lower cholesterol levels. Remember to purchase the unsalted variety.

Reading Food Labels

  • There are certain things to look for on food labels to help maintain heart health.
  • When looking at the list of ingredients, the higher the ingredient appears on the list the more that product contains.
  • Be sure and check the serving size.
  • When looking at fat be sure and check how much saturated or trans fat the product contains.
  • Watch out for added sodium, processed foods typically contain much more added sodium compared to unprocessed foods.

Grains - Cereals & Pasta

  • Flaxseed is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, there are many high fiber cereals that contain flaxseed.
  • You may not consider pasta to be a high fiber food, but new whole wheat pastas are great tasting and contain lots of fiber.

Seasoning Your Food - Oils & Spices

  • There are a variety of heart healthy oils and vinegars for cooking, dressing and dipping.
  • Spices are a wonderful way to enhance the flavor of your food.
  • Seasoning your food instead of salting helps reduce overall sodium intake.

Phytosterols - What Are They & Where to Find Them

  • Phytosterols come from plants and help block cholesterol from being absorbed.
  • Two grams of phytosterols per day is recommended.

Soy Products

  • There are plenty of soy products on the market today including:
    • Soy milk
    • Soy yogurt
    • Tofu
    • Veggie burgers
    • Snack bars
  • These soy products can help further lower cholesterol when taken as part of a heart healthy diet.

Recap - What to Put In Your Cart

  • Generally speaking you will find healthier food outside the center aisles.
  • Go with fresh foods instead of pre-packaged.
  • Consume essential omega 3 fatty acids that are contained in foods such as fish and flaxseed.
  • Increase soluble fiber intake to 20-30 grams per day by eating foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, vegetables and dried fruits.
  • Include foods in your diet that contain soy protein and plant sterols.
  • In the beginning keeping a record of what you are eating and how much can help you reach your nutritional goals.

More Information

To learn more about shopping heart healthy, our cardiologists, or treatment facilities, please use our contact form here. Schedule an appointment with a Memorial Hermann Cardiologist online or by calling (713) 222-2273.