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10 Tips on How to Have Heart-Healthy Cooking at Home

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Cooking at Home

If you’re seeking some extra direction on adopting healthier eating habits, diving into home cooking is a fantastic first step. By cooking at home, you take charge of what goes into your meals, steering clear of the typically higher calorie and sodium content found in restaurant fare. Moreover, you have the freedom to tailor dishes to your taste preferences.

You don’t need to be a seasoned chef to whip up dishes that will delight everyone. Cooking nutritious meals is a skill anyone can acquire – including you.

In this post, we’ve compiled our top ten tips to kick-start your journey to cooking healthily at home:

1. Trim down on salt intake

Consuming excess salt has been associated with heart disease and stomach cancer. Take charge of your salt intake by preparing meals at home more frequently, allowing you to regulate the salt content in your dishes. Aim to minimize salt usage during cooking, cutting at least half the salt from most recipes. Avoid reaching for the table salt, and exercise caution when incorporating other high-sodium condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, pickles, and olives. Opt for “reduced-sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned goods, and scrutinize the Nutrition Facts Label for sodium levels when shopping. Enhance flavours using herbs, spices, garlic, onions, peppers, and citrus juices.

2. Limit animal fats

By reducing the consumption of foods rich in animal fats, such as cheese and butter, you can significantly enhance the healthfulness of your meals by cutting down on saturated fat. Consider substituting half of your usual butter with olive oil or utilizing finely grated cheese to achieve the same flavour with less quantity. When selecting meat, opt for lean cuts like those labelled “loin” or “round” and drain excess fat from cooked ground meat. Minimize intake of processed meats high in saturated fat like hot dogs, salami, and bacon. Refrigerate stews or soups to allow fat to solidify, making it easier to skim off before reheating.

Swap out higher-fat cheeses for lower-fat alternatives like reduced-fat feta or part-skim mozzarella. Use evaporated fat-free milk to thicken sauces instead of whole milk, and gradually transition from higher-fat to lower-fat dairy products. Choose skinless poultry or remove the skin before consumption. Keep an eye on the Nutrition Facts Label for saturated fat content, as well as the presence of trans fat or partially hydrogenated oils, particularly in foods with longer shelf-life dates.

3. Substitute refined grains with whole grains

Opt for whole grains like brown rice over refined grains like white rice, as they offer more fibre, which can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and promote prolonged satiety. Incorporating whole grains into your diet has been correlated with a decreased risk of diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Include plant-based protein sources such as tempeh, beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts in your meals. Prioritize fruits and vegetables, aiming to fill half of your plate with them at each meal. Choose whole fruits and vegetables over 100% fruit juices whenever possible, and retain edible peels to maximize fibre intake. Opt for whole grains instead of refined grains whenever feasible.

4. Opt for olive or canola oil

Studies indicate that incorporating olive oil into your diet is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular issues. If olive oil isn’t within your budget or doesn’t suit your taste preferences, canola oil serves as a viable alternative. Canola oil contains beneficial omega-3 oils and has been demonstrated to lower cholesterol levels. It stands as a low-flavor, healthier substitute for oils like corn, soy, vegetable oil, and animal fats such as butter.

5. Select healthier fats and Cooking at Home techniques

Incorporate modest amounts of oils like canola and olive oil into recipes and for sautéing purposes. Create your own salad dressings using olive or flaxseed oil. Integrate mashed avocado into dips or utilize small portions to enhance the flavour of dishes. Experiment with various cooking methods such as baking, broiling, grilling, steaming, and poaching to diversify your culinary repertoire.

6. Steer clear of high-temperature cooking

Cooking meat at high temperatures through methods like grilling or pan-frying can lead to the formation of chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on the meat’s surface. These chemicals have the potential to induce alterations in your DNA and have been associated with cancer development.

7. Steer clear of deep-frying

Deep frying can also result in the formation of carcinogens on your food’s surface. For instance, popular items like French fries and potato chips contain acrylamide, a substance linked to cancer.

8. Refrain from using processed meats as flavour enhancers

Processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs have been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Even adding a small amount to vegetable dishes or soups for flavour may counteract the health benefits of other ingredients. Instead, utilize herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and citrus for seasoning.

9. Avoid margarine or cream-based sauces on vegetables

Sauces rich in fat or cream elevate the calorie content of your meals and can contribute to weight gain. Opting for these types of sauces, such as ranch dressing on salads, diminishes the healthfulness of your otherwise nutritious dishes.

10. Opt for clean and filtered water

Maintaining consistency in cooking is crucial, and using clean, filtered water ensures uniform results across recipes. Water quality plays a significant role in cooking times, texture, and the overall outcome of your dishes. Installing a water filter tap provides a dependable foundation for your culinary endeavours.

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