KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Heart health is the February focus of the Newsome Weight Loss Challenge.
One way to find out if you're diet is heart-healthy is to have your refrigerator inspected by a dietitian with the American Heart Association.
I called registered dietitian Mallory Bratton, with Kansas City Internal Medicine. She is also a volunteer with the American Heart Association. She agreed to come and raid my refrigerator.
Just so you know, I didn't change a thing in my refrigerator before Bratton came. After five minutes, she was ready to rate my refrigerator on a heart-healthy scale with one being bad and 10 being good.
"I give you an eight out of 10, which is pretty good," Bratton said. "I liked the blueberries, cabbage, celery and carrots you had. But, I thought you could make better choices when it comes to meat and milk."
My milk was 2 percent. Bratton thought 1 percent fat would be a healthier choice. She also wanted me to buy skinless chicken.
"The skin is where most of the fat is, so if you buy it with the skin just be sure to remove the skin before you cook it or eat it," she explained.
Bratton's shared her top five tips for heart-healthy eating.
In a kitchen, people can survive without an oven or without a microwave, but definitely not a refrigerator. When we are hungry, we open the refrigerator first to see what is inside -- anything tasty? It is important to keep delicious, healthy snacks ready to go in the refrigerator. So what exactly comprises tasty and healthy?
1. Produce. Keeping the refrigerator stocked with produce is really important. We all hear more fruits and vegetables, right? A great way to make this happen is to wash all produce when you get home from the store, cut it up and have is ready to go when hunger strikes. Bratton recommends pre-portioning produce into reusable containers so packing lunch is easy. Frozen produce is another great option, especially when particular foods are not in season.
2. Low-Fat Dairy. Dairy is definitely a staple to every ice box. For milk, Bratton recommends a 1 percent or skim milk. If you are used to drinking whole milk or 2 percent milk, try slowing decreasing the fat content. These low-fat milks can also be used in place of creams in recipes. Choose reduced-fat cheese. We all love cheese, but it is filled with saturated fat. Try skim mozzarella cheese or any reduced-fat variety. Skim mozzarella string cheeses are a great low-fat, low-calorie snack. For cottage cheese and sour creams, again choose low-fat or non-fat varieties.
3. Meats. Choose lean meats, primarily chicken, turkey, and fish. Always remove the skin from the poultry meat, as this is where much of the fat is. Also choose white poultry meat over dark meat.
4. Condiments. All of those tasty toppings that we dip our foods in can really add up in fat content. When choosing salad dressings, choose light or low-fat varieties. Oil-based dressings, such as Italian or oil and vinegar, are much healthier ways to add in flavor.
5. Fat. Butter is lethal for our heart. Try choosing tub margarines, such as Smart Balance, which has less saturated fat than butter. When baking, tub margarines work just as well as stick margarine or butter. Spray butters can also be a good alternative when we want some flavor.
Stocking the refrigerator with the heart healthy foods is a great way to set ourselves up for success when trying to eat well. Start with these tips above to help you and your family get off on the right start.
The American Heart Association has a grocery list builder on the website to help make a healthy grocery list. It can be found at http://checkmark.heart.org/.
If you would like to join the Newsome Weight Loss Challenge, email me at NewsomeChallenge@KSHB.com. We'll get healthy together and have fun along the way.