Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shopping for a Healthy Heart

Heart health starts at the grocery store. And although the supermarket isn't the only place where you get food, it is the most common source and so the first place to implement heart-attack-prevention strategies.

Here's a quick and easy-to-remember summary of what we know about heart disease prevention: Eat a diet low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Of course, this is easier said than done.

But rather than talking about what you can't buy at the grocery store (you likely know that already), let's focus on what you can. Come take a tour of the grocery store with me.

Start by thinking of the supermarket as a big square, and try to do most of your shopping along its perimeter. This is where you'll find the fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and some grains, all the foods recommended to keep your heart healthy.

On the other hand, the middle aisles are generally stocked with convenience foods, snack foods, seasonings, baking ingredients, and beverages, all the things we don't routinely need to purchase. (Ever notice how most of the products eligible for manufacturers' coupon discounts are middle-aisle items that you don't need?) Even here, though, you'll find some healthier choices — namely, canned fruits and vegetables; soups; pasta, rice, and cereals; and nuts and dried beans.

So, for heart health, cut back on the amount of grocery shopping you do in the center aisles. Instead, fill your cart with foods from the store's perimeter. This strategy will not only ensure that you buy mostly heart-healthy foods but will also make your next shopping trip easier and faster.

This is an article written
by Christine McKinney, M.S., R.D., C.D.E

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