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The Foods to Add to Your Heart-Healthy Meal Plan
A healthy meal plan may reduce your risk of heart disease. Eating healthy may also improve your overall health and give you more energy. It can be difficult to start your quest for heart-healthy eating. Don't worry - you can start by taking these small steps!
The types of food you need
A heart-healthy meal plan follows the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide. This means every day you should eat at least:
- 6 to 8 servings of grain products
- 1 serving is equal to 1 slice of bread, 1/2 a bagel, or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or quinoa.
- 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables
- 1 serving is equal to 1/2 cup of fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables, 1 fruit, or 1/2 cup of cooked leafy vegetables.
- 2 to 3 servings of milk and alternatives such as calcium-fortified soy beverages
- 1 serving is equal to 1 cup of milk or fortified soy drink, 1/2 cup yogurt or kefir, or 50 g of cheese.
- 2 to 3 servings of meat and alternatives such as tofu, beans, and lentils
- 1 serving is equal to 1/2 cup cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (such as salmon, sardines, trout, or mackerel), 2 eggs, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
In addition, you should limit the amount of foods that are high in calories, saturated and trans fat, sugar, and salt.
How to create a healthy meal plan
Planning your meals is important because it helps you get the nutrients you need for a healthy heart, ensures you eat a variety of healthy foods, saves time spent on multiple grocery store trips, and helps you prepare meals faster.
Take these steps to create a meal plan:
- Use a calendar or piece of paper to create a weekly menu planner. The menu planner should include what you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one or two snacks for each day of the week.
- Post your menu planner where you and your family can see it. Make sure you follow Canada's Food Guide on the types of food you should eat.
- Create a shopping list for the items you need to pick up at the grocery store.
- Go shopping. Remember to stick to what's on the list and try not to get swayed by unhealthy temptations!
Here's a sample of a meal plan for someone over 65 years old:
- Breakfast: 2 slices of French toast with 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, 1 orange, and coffee with 1/3 cup milk.
- Mid-morning snack: 30 g of whole grain cereal with 3/4 cup of yogurt and 1/2 cup of peaches.
- Lunch: Sandwich made with 2 slices of whole grain bread and 75 g of canned salmon (mixed with 1 teaspoon of low-fat mayonnaise), 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, and tea with 1/3 cup milk.
- Afternoon snack: 1/2 cup celery sticks.
- Dinner: Stew made with 75 g lean beef, 1/2 cup carrots, and 1/2 cup turnips; 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato; 1 slice baguette; 1 cup of fortified soy milk.
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