12 ways to save your heart by changing your diet

Ellie Krieger
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12 ways to save your heart by changing your diet

1. Forget what you know about cholesterol.

"What's really interesting that most people don’t realize about heart healthy eating is that the cholesterol you eat isn't really relevant. That's not really what affects your body’s blood cholesterol," explains Krieger.

"What really effects your body’s blood cholesterol the most is saturated fat, so foods like shrimp that has a lot of cholesterol but no fat or very little fat is a great food to eat."

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2. Eat less saturated fat, leaner meats and no trans fat.

"Really paramount is zero trans fat," explains Krieger. "Look at the saturated fat content and have it be as low as possible, but I think the zero trans fat piece is really key if you are going to look at a couple highlights on the label."

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3. Look for whole grains.

For breads and other items, always reach for the whole grain option.

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4. Go light on foods with high sodium content.

Foods marked with the American Heart Association check mark will be lower in sodium.

For prepared foods, always check the label for the sodium content.

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5. Reach for the oil.

"Foods that might have a lot of trans fats are packaged baked goods and certain margarine or shortenings," shares Krieger. "You are so much better off using olive oil as your oil for cooking as opposed to a margarine."

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6. Lean on spices.

Add "a little salt in moderate amounts to amplify [flavor] rather than leaning on salt for flavor," says Krieger. Instead, bulk up on spices like chili powder, cajun seasoning, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, ginger and garlic.

They not only add flavor, but they also have heart healthy properties.

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7. Work colorful vegetables into your diet.

"The antioxidants actually impart color to food so different antioxidants impart different colors (lycopene imparts the color red and carotene imparts the orange)," Krieger offers.

"By eating the full spectrum of colors you get all the antioxidants."

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8. Check out the canned food aisle in the winter.

Grab a canned soup or a can of tomatoes in the wintertime to keep filling up on antioxidant-rich colorful vegetables that are out of season.

Just look for low sodium options.

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9. Sneak veggies in your favorite cold weather comfort foods.

Consider adding canned tomatoes, root vegetables or greens like kale into your soup, stew or chili.

"I like to do that with spinach a lot. If I’m making a simple pasta with sauce, at the end of cooking the red sauce, I'll put in a handful of chopped spinach to add another layer of color," shares Krieger.

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10. Look for the American Heart Association Heart-Check certification.

Look for the AHA's emblem on foods throughout the grocery store, including on a number of products from Campbell's Healthy Request line.

"In order to get that check mark, [foods] have to meet very specific, stringent requirements from the American Heart Association," assures Krieger.

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11. Go back to chewing.

It's better to eat whole fruits and vegetables than to drink them, Krieger explains. Getting the fiber is important.

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12. Heart healthy foods are also good for everything else.

"What's good for your heart is really good for every cell in your body," says Ellie Krieger. "It is the same kind of eating that's good for your skin, that's good for your energy level, that's good to prevent cancer and that's good for reducing inflammation."

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As a nutritionist and TV host, Ellie Krieger would like to teach people to stop thinking about food in extremes; there is a healthy, wonderful place to be healthy and happy.

Heart disease isn't only the leading cause of death for men, but also for women. You may be surprised to hear that one in four women die from heart disease.

While many factors contribute to the disease, your diet is one factor that's within your control. That's why celebrated dietician Ellie Krieger recently joined forces with Campbell's to raise awareness about heart health.

"There are so many things you can't change, but one of the things you really have power over is the way you eat and it can really make a huge difference in terms of your heart health," assures Krieger.

For Ellie's top heart healthy eating tips, check out the slideshow above.

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