Meat and potatoes can be part of a heart healthy diet. Choose the right cuts and prepare them to reduce the fat.
Promotions for a heart healthy diet call for the exclusion of foods high in fat, such as deep fried foods, red meat, gravies and sauces made from animal fat, and almost no potatoes. For the meat and potato lover, the diet seems full of nothing but vegetables, fruit and rice cakes.
But the heart healthy diet can include meat and potatoes. These foods just need to be prepared properly and served in appropriate portions.
Red meat is targeted as an excluded food due to its high saturated fat content. Saturated fats promote cholesterol build-up in the arteries, resulting in heart disease. But red meat is also high in protein, and some cuts are considerably lower in fat than others.
Select cuts such as tenderloin, top round or filet mignon. These lean cuts have less than 3-to-5 percent fat content. Grill or broil the meat using a small amount of heart-friendly oil such as canola oil or sunflower oil and avoid steak sauces or other fatty garnishes. Doctor Roger Blumenthal, writing for Eat Better America, recommends a 3-ounce portion of red meat no more than twice a week.
The other meats
Chicken breasts, turkey and lean pork cuts, such as the tenderloin, are also high in protein. They’re also lower in fat and calories than red meat. Use chicken and turkey more often than red meat and serve moderate portions. Marinate the meat in an herb-infused oil and grill or broil for an entree full of flavor but low in fat.
Fish is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These good fats aid in reducing cholesterol levels and so reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contribute to healthy organ function, making fish a heart healthy food. As with the meat entrees, grill or broil the fish. Breading and deep frying a fish fillet negates the health benefits of the food itself. Include fish in your diet two to three times a week to help reduce your risk for heart disease.
Potatoes are a high carbohydrate food, a trait that has pushed them off the list of heart healthy foods. But potatoes are high in vitamins A and B6, both necessary for good heart health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. They’re also high in potassium, an electrolyte necessary to keep the heart pumping. Instead of deep fried French fries or butter soaked fried potatoes, keep the potato a healthy food by mashing with skim milk and low-fat margarine. Skip the gravy and flavor the moderately-sized mound with a pat of herb-infused margarine or a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Don’t like mashed potatoes? Try oven roasted potatoes seasoned with rosemary and garlic. Loads of flavor and low in fat, these potatoes satisfy that craving for carbs.
Meat and potato lovers can enjoy their favorite entrees without increasing their risk for heart disease. Reducing the portion size of meats and potato servings, choosing lean cuts, adding more fish to your diet and preparing food properly makes for heart healthy choices.