Follow the Stars to a Healthy Heart

February is American Heart Month, and in the past the Guiding Stars blog has covered various aspects of eating for a healthy heart including eating more whole grains, cutting down on added sugars, and eating more seafood. Science shows that consuming a diet that’s lower in sodium, saturated fats, and higher in potassium and fiber is beneficial for cardiovascular health. But of course, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things. What to do? Make heart-healthy food shopping easier with these tips.

Make Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Make Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Three Guiding Stars iconThree Guiding Stars indicate the best nutritional value. Looks for recipes that, like this oatmeal, are high in fiber and lot in sodium and saturated fat.

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Follow the stars.

Looking for Guiding Stars while shopping (check shelf tags. Product packages and additional signage throughout the store) can help you select foods that conform to the dietary recommendations of the American Heart Association. How? By evaluating components like sodium level, saturated fat, added sugars, fiber content, and omega-3 fats, the Guiding Stars algorithm simplifies your food selection process. All you need to do is choose more 2- and 3-star foods and you will automatically end up with a more heart-healthy cart of food. Of course, reading the full Nutrition Facts label is always recommended, but if you’re in a hurry or want to quickly compare foods within a category (say, find the best bread option for you out of all the breads on the shelf), following the Guiding Stars can be helpful. To quickly find out the star-value of a food, enter it into our Food Finder—you can do this in-store or from home when you’re planning your shopping trip.

Use a list.

Using a grocery list is beneficial in several ways.

  1. It can help you stay focused on getting what you need—and cuts down on those impulse buys that might not support your healthy eating plan.
  2. It can save you money by cutting down on over-buying mistakes.
  3. If it’s organized (by aisle or section of the supermarket), it can save you significant time because you won’t be circling around the store to pick up everything on your list (all produce will be together, all frozen food together, etc).

You can use regular old pencil and paper for your list, or take advantage of technology to make your list easily customizable. There are apps that have various functions to make your shopping process easier. If you prefer a hand-written list, you could save a little time by making yourself a list of staple items you typically buy weekly, and then make copies of it and keep them handy in your kitchen. Post your running list on your refrigerator if it helps you remember to jot down everything you need. Populating your list with heart-healthy staple foods (here are some ideas) can make your list-making less arduous.

Check Pinterest for heart-y recipes.

I adore reading recipes, and can get lost on Pinterest or other online sites that have beautiful photography of delicious-looking food. If you’re like me, it helps to have a couple of “go to” Pinterest boards. I hope you’ll consider checking out our Guiding Stars boards on Pinterest. Our boards feature lots of recipes that have all earned stars. Yes, Guiding Stars are not just for individual foods—we have a diverse and growing collection of recipes that go through a rigorous screening process to earn stars as well.  Other sites to consider for recipes that are appropriate for a heart-healthy eating plan include: American Heart Association recipes and Mayo Clinic recipes.