The nutrition myth that just can’t seem to be dispelled is that eating healthfully is always more expensive and that cost is a barrier to meeting health goals, such as following a heart healthy diet. When you consider what it truly means to follow a diet to reduce risk of heart disease, then it’s easy to see how affordable it can be.
Goal: Get 25-35 grams of dietary fiber a day.
There are many affordable ways to consume more fiber. In the cereal aisle, look for plain, unflavored oatmeal or unsweetened, whole grain flakes. If you don’t have time to prepare steel cut oats in the morning, look for the best “quick cooking” option available (or prepare this overnight oatmeal that cooks while you sleep!). When it comes to grains, choose your store brand whole wheat pasta, plain brown rice or other fiber rich grains. Look for more fiber rich options in the suggestions below!
Goal: Consume more fruits and vegetables.
Increasing intake of fruits and especially vegetables should be a nutrition goal for all of us, but particularly for those of us following a heart healthy diet, as they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Maintain regular access to produce by keeping frozen packages on hand (avoid options that contain sauces or seasonings) and visit your produce department for fresh, in season produce to also save money. Lastly, be sure to use what you buy!! Set aside prep time for washing, dicing and slicing and gather delicious vegetarian recipes.
Goal: Lower your sodium.
Most Americans consume too much sodium. While it may be sneaking in without your knowledge, there are clear places where we can avoid it. For example, look for crackers with unsalted tops and purchase sauces, broths and more labeled “no salt added.” Lastly, cook more so that you can control all of the steps rather than buying pre-seasoned meats and avoid grains that come with (salty) seasoning packets and rinse canned foods to further reduce sodium.
Goal: Consume less red meat.
Regular consumption of red meat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. It also happens to often be one of the more expensive options available at your butcher. Save money and reduce risk by choosing other proteins such as poultry (skinless), fish, non-fat, plain Greek yogurt, occasional reduced fat cheese and eggs, and fiber-rich beans.
Goal: Increase intake of mono and polyunsaturated fats.
It is well known that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation, thereby making them effective at reducing risk of heart disease. Luckily there are many affordable ways to consume them. Look for bulk packages of dry roasted, unsalted almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds or enjoy a bit of natural nut or seed butter. Add avocado to your salads, sandwiches and more. Visit your seafood department to take advantage of sales or purchase frozen fillets, which are often affordable. Lastly, cook with olive, canola and vegetable oils to incorporate these fasts into your meals.