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Posts Tagged ‘ smart food swaps ’

10 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart

Below is my latest blog post for American Heart Month “10 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart.

You can also read it on Huffington Post.


February marks the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one killer in Americans. For the good news, however, following a heart healthy diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in helping to prevent heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends choosing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and to include nuts and seeds, fatty fish and heart-healthy fats. It also recommends limiting foods high in trans fats, saturated fats and sodium.

As a nutritionist counseling clients on heart health, rather than advise clients just on what foods to avoid, I like to empower them by offering healthy food choices and substitutions to make.

Below are 10 smart food swaps which can make a huge difference to the health of your heart. These are simple tweaks to your diet that can boost your nutrition and they also taste great.

1. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal instead of cream of wheat.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The type of fiber in oatmeal, beta glucans, may be particularly beneficial for heart health and for weight control. Oatmeal also contains the minerals magnesium and potassium also good for the heart.

2. Top your oatmeal with blueberries instead of sugar.
Blueberries are one of the healthiest foods around, and they contribute to health, including heart health. With only 80 calories per cup and low in fat, these tasty blue gems are packed with fiber, phytochemicals, vitamin C, and an excellent source of the mineral manganese. Blueberries contain a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can contribute to heart health and a reduction of other chronic diseases. You can also include them in your diet all year long: they can be purchased fresh and are also available frozen throughout the year.

3. Eat a bean-based veggie burger instead of a hamburger for lunch.
Bean and legumes are a great plant based protein while also contributing to heart health. They are rich in soluble fiber, devoid of saturated fat, and fairly low in calories. Hamburgers on the other hand, are high in unhealthy saturated fats which have been shown to elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol.

4. Top your burger with lettuce and tomato instead of cheese.
Lettuce and tomato are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and contains few calories and virtually no fat. They contain the antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber.

5.  Snack on walnuts instead of chips.
Hungry for a snack? Adding walnuts to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids’s that can benefit the heart, brain and skin. These tasty nuts also contain the antioxidant vitamin E.

6. Start your dinner with a colorful salad instead of fried mozzarella sticks.
Starting your meal with a colorful salad is a terrific way to boost heart healthy nutrients in your diet. Salads and vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. The different colors provide different nutrients so throw in romaine lettuce rich in the B vitamin folate, red cherry tomatoes rich in lycopene and carrots which are full of beta carotene.

7. Top your salad with avocado instead of croutons.
Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, a good fat which may contribute to heart health. Avocados are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E. Not only is this green fruit (yes, it is a fruit) good for the heart, it tastes great and adds a zest of flavor.

8. Choose olive oil instead of butter.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, also known as a heart-healthy fat. Diets rich in olive oil have been associated with heart health. This oil is is also rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols which protects blood vessels and other components of the heart. Next time you visit your favorite restaurant, dip your bread in olive oil instead of butter.

9. Choose grilled salmon instead of fried flounder.
We hear that fish is good for the heart. In particular, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are chock full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats that have been shown to benefit the heart as well as the brain.

10. Drink a glass of red wine instead of a soda.
Moderate amounts of alcohol (one drink for women and two for men) have been shown to contribute to heart health and may improve good HDL cholesterol levels. For an added boost, red wine in particular, contains polyphenols, including resveratrol, which have been associated with an increase in good cholesterol and a decrease in inflammation.

Let’s toast to a healthy heart. We would love to hear any heart-healthy food swaps you have made.

Follow Dr. Lisa Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drlisayoung

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Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014

Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Smart food swaps for a healthier 2014.”

You can also read it HERE.

It’s that time of year — a new year and a new beginning. As a nutritionist, I often hear from new clients that they make New Year’s resolutions early January and by Valentine’s Day, they are discouraged and back to their same old patterns. Resolutions such as, “I have to lose weight” or, “I want to eat healthier” tend to be too broad, and therefore do not generally work. What I have found in my private practice is that small action-oriented steps and simple substitutions tend to work a lot better.

Here are some smart-and simple food swaps that you can actually implement and incorporate into your everyday routine to help you lead a healthier life.

1. Choose whole fruit instead of juice.

Juice tends to be high in sugar and low in fiber. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, contains more fiber than the juice and has a higher water content, both which are excellent for weight loss. Eating an orange instead of guzzling down a pint of orange juice can save you over 150 calories. Imagine how many calories you can save if you make this switch daily.

2. Start your day with a low fat Greek yogurt instead of a doughnut.

Greek yogurt is an excellent breakfast as it is high in protein, which can keep you full longer. Top your yogurt with fresh fruit and a handful of walnuts to round out your breakfast. A doughnut, on the other hand, is full of calories without much nutrition.

3. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.

Grains and starches are not taboo and do not need to be avoided to be healthier and lose some weight in the process. The trick is to eat the right kind of grains. Whole grains are the best choice as they are chock full of nutrients and fiber. Include brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal instead of white bread, white rice, and white pasta.

4. Drink water and seltzer instead of soda.

Soda contains pure sugar, is liquid candy, and a waste of calories. Why not eat your calories instead of drink them? Swapping soda for water or seltzer can save you hundreds of calories. For flavor, add a splash of lemon, orange, or cucumber or throw in a few fruity ice cubes (pour your favorite juice into an ice cube tray and freeze for flavored ice cubes).

5. Eat an English muffin (whole grain, of course) instead of a bagel.

Making this swap can save you over 200 calories. While both a bagel and an English muffin are just one item, a bagel is equivalent to approximately five bread slices whereas an English muffin is more like two bread slices. Save the bagel as an occasional treat.

6. Start your meal with a vegetable salad (dressing on side) instead of a fried appetizer.

Starting your meal with a fresh salad is a great way to include vegetables into your diet. Salad and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, full of fiber, and low in calories.

7. Choose a low-fat tomato-based soup instead of a cream-based soup.

I am a soup lover. I enjoy eating soup in the cold winters in NY and also in the summer. Soups make a great snack, a healthy appetizer, and even a great meal. The key is to eat a vegetable based soup and to skip the cream. Great choices include 10 vegetable soup, minestrone soup, and white bean and escarole soup.

8. Eat an apple or a pear as a snack instead of a bag of chips.

When you feel the urge to nibble, go for a healthy piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips.

9. Choose salmon instead of steak.

I advise limiting read meat and choosing fish instead. Grilled salmon, for example, is high in protein, much lower in saturated fat than red meat, and full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

10. Finish your meal with a cup of blueberries instead of a slice of blueberry pie.

Berries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients and low in calories. If you want to indulge in an occasional slice of pie, make it a sliver, and surround it with a cup of fresh fruit.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!

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