From fruit to fats, salmon to snacks, food can be so good, and so bad!
Melissa Moore of the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center has a top five list of foods to avoid. She says they all have lot of fat, sodium and calories.
The Bad List
1. Potato chips. Moore says they're usually greasy and fried, with a lot of salt and fat. Be careful with baked or low-fat alternatives - check the label for partially hydrogenated, which is bad for the heart.
2. French fries. Moore says they're also full of fat and sodium. "The potato part is good," she says, "but you deep-fry it and it totally ruins that." A baked potato would be a better option - but easy on the sour cream and butter!
3. Ice cream. Some of the gourmet varieties can have 20 grams of fat and 300 calories per serving. Plus, Moore says, most people usually scoop much more than a single serving into their bowl! Opt for low-fat versions or sugar-free frozen yogurt instead.
4. Cookies. Moore says many store-bought versions contain partially hydrogenated fat, and 8 grams of fat or more for a single cookie. She says a homemade cookie is a better treat, since you can control what you put in it.
5. White bread. Moore says it makes the list for what's not in it. She says eating whole grain bread will give you fiber and more nutrients.
What should you eat? Moore made a list of those foods, too. She says they're rich in fiber and omega three fatty acids, which lower triglycerides, which is fat in the blood.
The Good List
1. Salmon. Moore says it's rich in omega three fatty acids. She says you should try for two servings of fatty fish a week.
2. Walnuts. Another good source of omega three. Moore says research shows almonds, pecans and pistachios are also good. The trick is to eat them in moderation - not sit down with the entire jar!
3. Blueberries. Moore says they're a very good anti-oxidant source and help to lower bad cholesterol.
4. Oatmeal. A good source of soluble fiber. Moore suggests tossing some walnuts on it to get even more nutritional benefit.
5. Soy. You can try soy milk, soy nuts or cooking with tofu. Moore says it lowers bad cholesterol and has omega three, too. She says research suggests 25 grams of soy a day to get the benefits.
An emerging healthy food is plant sterols. Moore says it's found naturally in vegetables, fruits and nuts. It's now being added to heart-healthy margarines and orange juices - look for it on the labels.
Even with the good foods, Moore says pay attention to serving sizes - you can have too much of a good thing. Also, she says you shouldn't stress about the bad. She says it's all right to have a cookie or ice cream once in a while; it just shouldn't become an every day habit.
You can learn more about healthy foods at the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center's web site, www.youknowusbyheart.org.. You can also request the Center's Eating Heart Healthy booklet through the following link, www.stormontvail.org/heartcenter/health/bookreqst.htm.