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Steps to Heart-Healthy Eating

By making small changes in the way you eat, you can reduce your risks for heart-related health problems. Preparing healthful meals at home is a key ingredient to promoting good heart health. Look for ways to cut down on saturated and total fat, cholesterol and calories, use cooking methods that require little or no fat, and moderate portions.

Step 1: Cut Out the Trans Fat and Saturated Fat

Here are some simple ways to reduce saturated and trans fats when you are cooking:

  • Choose lean meats like pork tenderloin or lean or extra lean ground beef and remove skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Drain the fat from cooked meats or after browning ground beef for stews, tacos and other family favorites.
  • Baste chicken and turkey with wine, low-sodium chicken stock, vegetable stock or fruit juice instead of using (fat) drippings.
  • Eat fish at least two times per week; this can include canned tuna.*
  • Use small amounts of vegetable oils for cooking instead of solid fats (butter and margarine).

Cooking with Good vs. Bad Fats

Good Fats
Bad Fats
Unsaturated fat Saturated fat (Typically found in foods from animals, such as meat, milk, cheese and butter)
Vegetable oils, such as corn, olive, canola, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower or peanut Lard, butter, palm and coconut oils

Step 2: Watch the Way You Cook

Use cooking methods that require little or no fat—boil, broil, bake, roast or poach foods rather than pan-frying them. You should also consider other ways to prepare food:

  • Stew
  • Grill
  • Stir-fry
  • Steam

Step 3: Moderate Portions

To plan healthful portion sizes (per person), picture the following objects:

3 to 4 ounces of meat or poultry: the size of a deck of cards
1 ounce of low-fat or fat-free cheese: the size of 4 dice
1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta: 1/2 of a baseball
1 baked potato: a fist
2 tablespoons of peanut butter:

a ping-pong ball


* Children and pregnant women are advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to avoid eating fish with the highest potential of mercury contamination, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Children and pregnant women can eat up to 12 ounces (two average servings) per week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, including canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.

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