Christine’s Heart Attack Survivor Story: “The emotional journey is the hardest part”
How to make easy, healthy, and delicious home meals
After a heart attack, the path to eating a heart-healthy diet might seem complicated or overwhelming. However, making small changes to your eating patterns can help you get the nutrients you need while lowering your risk of another heart attack.
But making heart-healthy meals at home doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the kitchen or giving up the food you love. Here are some simple recipes to try at home that are so quick and tasty, you won’t believe they’re actually good for both your heart and wallet !
How you can swap a few simple ingredients to kickstart a heart health journey
Cooking at home instead of eating out is a great way to put you in control of what goes into your body. Start by asking your doctor if there are any specific foods or ingredients you should stay away from. Your doctor may tell you to choose foods that are lower in:
Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits without high-calorie dips, dressing, or sauces, choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, and including a variety of fish in your diet are just a few ways to help protect your heart.
You can make many of your favorite dishes at home without losing the flavors you love by swapping a few ingredients with these healthy substitutions.
Can you drink alcohol after a heart attack?
You may be wondering if sipping on the occasional glass of wine, cocktail, or beer could be off the table for you after a heart attack. You should always ask your doctor if it’s okay for you to drink alcohol, as they know you and your heart best.
Your doctor may tell you that drinking too much alcohol has been known to raise the levels of fats like triglycerides in the blood. When triglycerides are combined with high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) or low HDL (good cholesterol), they can build up in the artery walls and increase the risk of a heart attack.
If you don’t drink already, don’t start. If you do drink, it’s important you check with your doctor about what would be best for you.
How to read food labels for heart health
Nutrition labels are a good way to compare food items and choose the healthier option. Although you can find a nutrition facts label on the back of most packaged goods, understanding the things you should stay away from is not always easy.
Many of the ingredients that your doctor may tell you to avoid may be called multiple names. Keep an eye out for these ingredients next time you check the back of a food item:
All names for salt
Sodium, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, disodium, or monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are all names for salt
All names for sugar
High-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, and dehydrated cane juice are all names used for sugar
Saturated fat or trans fat
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, Copha, palm oil, and coconut oil are all foods that contain saturated fat or trans fat. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature, and should be substituted for healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6
Other things to keep in mind when taking a look at the nutrition label are:
- Checking the serving size information at the top of the label so you don’t go over the suggested meal portion
- Total calories per serving so you don’t go over your daily calorie intake
- Overall, remember to look at your nutrition label holistically to ensure you’re eating a well-rounded food item, and not something that may be low in calories but is high in sodium