healthy foods

Food and heart health go hand in hand, and a healthy diet can lower your risk for heart and vascular disease. If you think healthy eating means a bland diet without the foods you love, think again. You can enjoy many healthy options and still make good choices for your heart.

Learn about four common myths and get the facts about tasty, easy, heart-healthy eating below.

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Myth: Heart-Healthy Food Has No Flavor

Fact: Heart-healthy foods are lower in fat, cholesterol, and sodium and higher in fiber, but this doesn’t mean they’re bland. Fresh fruits and vegetables pack in all kinds of sweet and savory flavors, and you can find creative ways to spice up your favorite dishes without adding salt or sugar. Try herbs and spices like basil, cinnamon, ginger, onion powder, paprika, and sage, or spritz on lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar the next time you cook.

Myth: To Be Heart-Healthy, I Have to Stop Eating All of My Favorite Foods

Fact: You don’t have to say goodbye to everything you love, but you might need to swap out some foods for others, or change how you make your dishes. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about healthier choices and ways to prepare your favorites without added fat, sugar, and salt. Some easy swaps include roasting or grilling meat instead of frying, choosing whole grain bread instead of white, going for low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt, and switching from canned vegetables to fresh or frozen.

Myth: Healthy Eating Means Lots of Cooking

Fact: Many heart-healthy foods are easy to make, and some require no cooking at all. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw or easily peeled and chopped to mix into your favorite dishes. A piece of fruit or a handful of almonds makes a simple, healthy, on-the-go snack. Grilling is a quick option that isn’t just healthier than frying but will also save on kitchen cleanup time.

Myth: Healthy Food Costs a Lot of Money

Fact: You can make healthy choices without breaking the bank by planning out your meals and snacks and getting creative with what you buy. Fresh fruits and vegetables cost less in-season, and frozen varieties are available year-round. Unsalted beans and nuts offer a great option for protein, and you can choose lean pork, poultry, or fish instead of red meat. Look for sales, and don’t be shy about using coupons at your local store.

If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about heart-healthy choices that are right for you. Looking for inspiration? Check out our article on How to Beat the Heat with Heart Healthy Food.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute ranks among the best in the United States for complete cardiovascular care. U.S. News & World Report lists UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the top hospitals nationally for cardiology and heart surgery. We treat all manners of heart and vein conditions, from the common to the most complex. We are creating new medical devices and cutting-edge treatments that may not be available at other hospitals. We also offer screenings, free clinics, and education events in the community.