Use daily calorie count to plan healthy menu


Reading labels when shopping for food and checking reputable websites can be helpful in planning a heart healthy menu.

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Since February is heart healthy month, registered dietician April Kashdan, RD/LD of HealthFirst and Balanced Senior Nutrition in Viera and Palm Bay, shares ways to heart healthy eating.

Avoid saturated fats, fatty meats, poultry skin, sausage, whole milk, cream and butter, trans fat margarine, shortening and some fried and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils, Kashdan said.

If this seems to boggle the mind, Kashdan suggests planning the menu based on your daily calorie count.

“Prepare ahead of time before grocery shopping or going to a restaurant so you arrive and know what you want to order,” Kashdan said. “Try foods with no more than 150 milligrams per serving for sodium. It comes down to reading labels when shopping. It is high if it has more than 300 milligrams per serving.

“If purchasing frozen meals when shopping, look at the labels and know what your limitations are. There are some frozen meals that are better than others. Switch to grains and beans, being realistic in what you can do.”

Kashdan suggests it is easier if you check the website for restaurant menus at Many times, that website has restaurants’ menus and the calories and specifics shared.

“Heart healthy fat is 25, 35 percent if you eat 2,000 calories a day,” she said.

Kashdan recommends checking reputable sources online such as the American Heart Association “because there is so much information out there and trend diets.”

Heart healthy foods include monounsaturated fats and omega 3 foods such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Aim to eat fish twice a week. Omega 3 also is found in walnuts, canola and soybean oils. Flax seed is another omega 3 oil that can be placed in cereal or through omega 3 pills.

“Eating 20, 30 grams of dietary fiber per day is good,” Kashdan said. “Consume fruits, vegetables and beans. Have at least 30 minutes of exercise most days. The overall important factor is getting exercise.