Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, FAAP
Most of us know eating an apple is healthier than having a donut. But sometimes it's not so easy to know which food is healthier for you. And you do want to know.
Knowing what a food is made out of can help you pick foods that will make you feel your best and have more energy. You win from eating foods with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
One part of your body that you want to protect by eating healthy foods is your heart. Heart-healthy foods help your heart stay strong. How can you tell what is a heart-healthy food? Check out the package.
Some heart-healthy foods have whole grains and fiber on their nutrition facts and ingredients list. They also have iron, calcium, protein, and vitamins listed.
Foods that are healthy for your heart don't have a lot of:
These 4 types of ingredients can clog your heart and blood vessels.
Here's another easy way to spot foods that are healthy for your heart. Some foods have a red heart with a checkmark on it, like the picture above. The heart picture is from the American Heart Association. It's an organization all about protecting people's hearts. Foods including breads, crackers, cereals, soups, and others may have these hearts.
What does it mean when you see the heart picture? You know the foods will be filling and nutritious, says Teresa Beach. She's a dietitian. She works at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Foods with the heart on it won't give you extra salt or unhealthy fat. And they don't have empty calories -- the kind without healthy nutrients.
Many foods are good for your heart. But all of them don't have a heart picture on the label. If you don't see a heart picture, it doesn't mean the food is unhealthy.
Now look in your kitchen and see what you can find. Check the food labels. Look for saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Look for protein, calcium, and vitamins. Do any foods have the American Heart Association heart?
Next time you're at the grocery store, do some research. Check the labels for healthy ingredients. See what you can find with the red heart and checkmark. See how many you can find without sugar listed as the first or second ingredient. Maybe you can ask your parents to add some of those heart-healthy foods to your cart.
IMAGE PROVIDED BY:American Heart AssociationREFERENCES:Linda Bartholomay, LRD, manager, outpatient nutrition therapy, Sanford Health, Fargo, N.D.Whole Grains Council: "Whole grain stamp."American Heart Association: "Heart-Check Mark," "Heart-Check Mark Nutritional Criteria," "Sugar and Carbohydrates," "High sugar consumption may increase risk factors for heart disease in American teenagers."Teresa Beach, RD, community education dietitian, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.Sarah Hampl, MD, medical director, PHIT Kids (Promoting Health in Teens and Kids), Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, Mo.Welsh, J. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010; vol 303: pp 1490-1497.
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