Make over your eating habits together to help everyone’s ticker. These simple swaps will work with all of your prized recipes.
1. Stick to grilled, broiled, or steamed dishes when you eat out.
Cornell researchers analyzed hundreds of menus along with diners’ orders and found that items highlighted with bold, colorful lettering or set apart in a box are selected more often, even if they’re the least healthy. In other words, enticing descriptions really do influence your decisions. So keep this in mind when you’re picking an entrée. Make it a point to look past all the fancy fonts and mouthwatering words and stick to grilled, broiled, and steamed dishes. And when you’re with your family, try to go to restaurants that offer nutritious kid’s menu options. A study published in the journal Obesity found that when there are more healthy options on the 12-and-under menu—crowding out the fried foods and other unhealthy picks—children are more likely to order them.
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2. Make these healthy swaps when baking at home.
- Replace 1 cup sugar with ¾ cup raw or coconut palm sugar (they’re naturally sweeter so you can use less), plus a pinch of a sweet spice (like cinnamon), or ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract. This will save 130 calories and 22 g sugar per cup.
- Instead of ½ cup butter, use 3 Tbsp unsalted butter + ¼ cup avocado or grapeseed oil. The taste is just as rich and you gain heart-healthy fats.
- Replace white all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour for more fiber and a slightly nuttier flavor.
- Fold in bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao) rather than the semisweet or milk varieties. The darker the chocolate, the more heart-protective cocoa compounds it potentially contains.
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3. Sneak veggies into every meal.
People who average eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to those who eat fewer than 1½ servings, according to a long-term study of almost 110,000 men and women. Vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with nutrients that may help control blood pressure.
- In the morning, add spinach to eggs or try something unexpected, like mixing mashed sweet potatoes into pancake batter.
- For lunch, pile sandwiches high with all the fixings (cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, tomato)—or, if you prefer, make a salad packed with vegetables and topped with sandwich meat.
- And for snack time, blend greens into a fruit smoothie or munch on carrots dipped in hummus.
4. Stop sampling, and start to savor your treats.
Instead of nibbling as you go, give everyone in your family—including yourself—a cookie, then sit down and enjoy it slowly.