A Healthy Kitchen Makeover



Tackling neglected cleaning tasks? Cleaning out the attic or reorganizing your bedroom might top your list. But don’t neglect the heart of your own — give your kitchen a makeover by stocking it with great-tasting, healthy choices.

First, take a peek inside your refrigerator and pantry. Look at the expiration or “best used by” dates on food packages.

Foods kept past their expiration dates can degrade in quality, and items such as butter and oils can go bad.

What to Stock Up On

Diets rich in high-fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Whole Grains. Whole grains have essential vitamins and dietary fiber. Whole-grain foods high in fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, rice and barley. How do you know if you’re getting what you need? Check the label. Whole grain should be the first ingredient.

Fruits and Vegetables. Low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, fruits and veggies are nutritious, filling foods. Whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned or dried, they’re a delicious must-have for your diet.

Leaner Is Better. Making lean choices will help you maintain a heart-healthy diet. Consider skinless chicken and turkey, fish, shellfish and lean cuts of beef such as round, sirloin, chuck and loin. Beans and soy products such as tofu are good meat substitutes.

Healthier Fats. Fats play an important role in your diet, but it’s important to choose the right kinds. Choose oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola oil or olive oil, and use soft margarines with no trans fats. Try to steer clear of saturated and trans fats, which are often found in mayonnaise, chips, cookies, packaged muffins, snack cakes and crackers.

Salt. Most of the sodium (salt) in our diet comes from prepared food. Eating too much salt increases your risk of developing high blood pressure (a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke) and raises it in those who have it. When buying prepared and prepackaged foods, be sure and read the labels first. Watch for the words “soda” and “sodium” in the ingredient statement and look for the symbol “Na” on labels. Choose lower sodium products. Aim for less than 2300 mg of sodium a day — that’s about one teaspoon of table salt.

To find heart-healthy foods in the grocery store, start by making your grocery list online. Visit heartcheckmark.org to build your list from approximately 800 products ranging from meat and dairy to vegetables and snacks, all certified by the American Heart Association to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Print your list or access it from your Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA.

For more nutrition information, visit americanheart.org/nutrition.

Simple Substitutions

You can snack healthier just by making some simple changes.

Instead of Enjoy
Regular potato or corn chips Baked chips or soy crisps (reduced sodium)
Devil’s food cake Angel food cake
Ice cream bars Frozen fruit bars
Pudding made with whole milk Pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk
Ice cream Sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or (1%) low-fat yogurt

Shop smart! Live well! Look for the heart-check mark!

All products bearing the heart-check mark meet the American Heart Association’s nutrition criteria per standard serving size to be:

  • Low in fat (3 grams or less)
  • Low in saturated fat (1 gram or less)
  • Zero* trans fat (less than .5 grams)
  • Low in cholesterol (20 milligrams or less)
  • Moderate in sodium, with 480 milligrams or less for individual foods

In addition, they contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one or more of these naturally occurring nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron or dietary fiber.

Also, seafood, game meat, meat and poultry, as well as whole-grain products, main dishes and meals must meet additional nutritional requirements.

*Per U.S. Food and Drug Administration


Modern Tuna-Pasta Casserole

Serves 4; 1 1/2 cups per serving

4             ounces dried whole-wheat

rotini (about 1 1/2 cups)

Cooking spray

1             16-ounce bag frozen

mixed vegetables, such

as a carrot, broccoli and

cauliflower blend, thawed

2             5.5-ounce cans low-sodium

chunk light tuna, packed

in water, flaked

1             10.75-ounce can low-fat

condensed cream of

chicken soup (lowest

sodium available)

1/2             cup chopped bottled

roasted red bell peppers,

rinsed before chopping

1/2             cup fat-free half-and-half

1            teaspoon all-purpose

seasoning blend

3/4             cup lightly crushed

(about 1/4-inch pieces)

low-sodium whole-grain

crackers (about 34


1/4             cup shredded or grated

Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta using package directions, omitting salt and oil. Drain well in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 2-quart glass casserole dish with cooking spray.

Stir mixed vegetables, tuna, soup, roasted peppers, half-and-half and seasoning blend into pasta until combined. Transfer to casserole dish. Sprinkle with crackers and Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until casserole is warmed through and the topping is golden brown.

Cook’s Tip: With the variety of frozen mixed vegetable blends available to choose from, you can easily incorporate new tastes into this casserole. You can also change the flavor of the sauce by substituting low-fat condensed cream of mushroom or celery soup for the chicken soup, always choosing the lowest-sodium product available.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving): Calories, 400; Total Fat, 7.0 g, Saturated Fat, 2.5 g, Trans Fat, 0.0 g, Polyunsaturated Fat, 2.0 g, Monounsaturated Fat, 2.0 g; Cholesterol, 30 mg; Sodium, 537 mg; Carbohydrates, 52 g; Fiber, 8 g; Sugars, 7 g; Protein, 32 g; Dietary Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 3 lean meat

This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program. Recipe copyright © 2008 American Heart Association. For more information heart-healthy grocery shopping, visit heartcheckmark.org.

Courtesy of the American Heart Association

Photo courtesy of Getty Images