What dietitians want you to do for a healthy heart
By Shannon Crocker, MSc, RD, www.shannoncrocker.ca
Want to keep your heart healthy? Make more meals at home!
As a registered dietitian, this is one piece of advice that I am 100% behind. I’d shout it from the rooftops if I could. And I’m not alone.
Heart and Stroke says that two of the best things you can do to protect your heart are to avoid ultra-processed foods and enjoy more meals cooked at home.
Ultra-processed foods tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar, and they often contain preservatives, artificial flavours and colours. When you make meals at home, not only do you control what goes in them, but you can also include health-boosting foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains (barley, oats, quinoa) and nutrient-rich sources of protein (eggs, lentils, chickpeas).
What about eggs?
Eggs are a simple, nutrient-rich whole food; unprocessed, unrefined and with no additives! And like any whole food, eggs can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.
Eggs used to have a bad reputation because the yolks contain dietary cholesterol. But over the years, scientific evidence has proven that dietary cholesterol in foods has little impact on a person’s blood cholesterol levels.
Dietitians, like myself, and credible health authorities, including Heart and Stroke, no longer recommend a limit on dietary cholesterol. Instead, we focus on an overall healthy balanced diet based on whole foods.
This is eggs-cellent news! Eggs have nutrients that may actually protect your heart, such as omega-3 fats and B vitamins (including folate, B6 and B12).
Make meals quick and easy with eggs
So, you want to make more meals at home, but your weeknights are too busy? Well, my motto is: Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be good for you.
When I’m crunched for time, I turn to eggs for quick and healthy meals. My family loves having breakfast foods for dinner; one of our favourite meals is scrambled eggs, whole grain toast and sautéed cherry tomatoes.
Try these three easy recipes for homemade meals your family will love:
- Asparagus Pepper Frittata: Enjoy with a large serving of leafy green salad.
- Quick Burrito: Try this savoury mix of scrambled eggs, black beans and veggies wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla.
- Sweet Potato Pancakes with Poached Eggs: Serve with a fresh fruit salad. Breakfast for dinner, anyone?
- Egg and Couscous Salad: Take this salad to your next potluck for everyone to enjoy!
Moubarac, J. Ultra-processed foods in Canada: consumption, impact on diet quality and policy implications. Montréal: TRANSNUT, University of Montreal; December 2017.
Fernandez, ML; Calle M. Revisiting dietary cholesterol recommendations: does the evidence support a limit of 300 mg/d? Curr Atheroscler Rep 12(6):377-83, 2010.
Scrafford, CG; Tran, NL; et al. Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutrition 14(2):261-70, 2011.