BURMEISTER: How to eat heart healthy

By Nancy Burmeuster

Special to the Herald Review

What you eat matters. Also, how much you eat matters. Personally, I love food, almost any kind of food. That joke about the “see food diet” is my nightmare. So, what can we food-lovers do?

We can grocery shop just after a full meal, choose carefully, check labels and avoid buying what we do not need.

We can keep snacks that we should avoid put away and out of view. We can leave fresh fruit and/or veggies out on the counter, so when we get hungry, we will snack on something that is actually good for us.

We can plan meals ahead, making sure that we include five servings of vegetables and fruits, a healthy dose of fiber, dairy or other calcium, and some good lean protein in our daily fare.

Do you eat out often? Again, planning ahead helps. Salads seem like a good choice, but watch out! Some salads contain bacon, cheese and a fat and calorie-laden dressing. Some salads have enough fat and calories for a whole day.

Do we have to stay away from the yummy stuff all the time? No, we just need to remember to enjoy it occasionally and in moderation. The experts tell us that chocolate (especially the dark kind) is actually good for us, in moderation.

If you are old enough, you will remember when the “experts” first decided that butter, lard, heavy cream and any animal fat was bad for us. They invented oleo-margarine and the other trans-fats. Now we know that those are even worse for us. So, what should we use? I know people who have gone back to butter or lard.

I know people who are convinced that coconut oil is the thing to use. We are encouraged by health professionals to use more heart healthy oils like olive oil. These seem to have a better record of not clogging our blood vessels. I stick with olive oil, but I would suggest that all of the above are really bad if they are overdone. And, none of them will do much harm if used in small amounts.

In fact, moderation is probably the key word when it comes to what and how much we eat.

Keeping track of BMI, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar will help you stay on track (we will go over those later).

The number of calories in a daily diet depends on height, physical activity and whether a person is trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Common sense really needs to guide us, along with self-control.

Take care of your heart. You cannot live without it!