After suffering a heart attack, dietary changes are often advised. These alterations are implemented with the goal of increasing overall health and to prevent future cardiac problems. There are three areas of the diet which require modification. The first change is the reduction of sodium. The second is the reduction of fat in the diet. The third is an increase in consumption of dietary fiber. Although it seems as though anything that tastes good is out of reach, this is not the case. With a few easy substitutions and an increased awareness nutritional facts, delicious choices await.
Salt substitutions and techniques
With a little knowledge, lowering the sodium content in food is easy. When buying canned goods, choose low- or no-sodium varieties and rinse them in water before cooking in order to further reduce sodium levels. Do not use a salt shaker at the table; instead, have salt-free herb mixes to sprinkle on food. Condiments such as soy sauce can be very high in sodium, so look for lower salt varieties. Frozen and packaged foods tend to be heavily laden with salt, so check the labels. A greater variety of herbs and spices are available than ever before, so experiment with them instead of adding salt.
Low salt recipe
This is a low-sodium version of twice baked potatoes.
4 medium potatoes
2 tsp canola oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
1 reduced-sodium bullion cube, any flavor
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
Prick the potatoes with a fork and bake for 1 hour at 400° F. In a non-stick skillet, add oil, onion, garlic and pepper. Cook on medium heat for five minutes, stirring often. Add the bullion, crumbled, and continue to cook for an additional three minutes, stirring all the while. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Using a sharp knife, slice the top of each potato lengthwise, removing and saving the top. Scoop out the potato pulp, and add it to a large bowl along with paprika, yogurt, salt and pepper. Add the onion mixture and stir to combine. Spoon the potato filling into the potato shells and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot, with additional yogurt, if desired.
Serves four, as a side dish, or a light lunch.
Low fat tips
In order to reduce the amount of fat in the diet, it is good to know the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats. In general it is wise to avoid saturated fats, which harden at room temperature and are usually animal derived fats. Butter and lard are examples of saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are those derived from plant sources, such as olive oil, and canola oil. These types of fats remain liquids at room temperature. It is a good idea to read the label on any packaged food and check for fat content. Some foods such as crackers, tend to be high in fat even though they are the whole wheat variety. Look for foods labeled low or reduced fat. The use of non-fat cooking spray is an easy way to control fat intake. Avoid store-bought baked goods, as these tend to be very high in fat.
High fiber recipe
Bulghur pilaf, with fruits and nuts:
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 cup bulghur
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried thyme, or, 1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Heat the olive oil in a non stick pot with a tight fitting lid. Add onion and cook over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the broth, increasing the heat until it boils. Add the rest of the ingredients, reserving the pine nuts until later. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and allow to sit for eight minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and serve on a platter garnished with lime sections.
Serves four as a side dish.