Food for your Heart Myths Debunked

Posted at: 02/11/2014 7:41 PM
Updated at: 02/12/2014 7:43 AM

We all know that keeping our hearts ticking along merrily is important.  But you may not know that some foods mistakenly considered off-limits for heart health can actually be part of a heart-friendly diet.

Food for your Heart Myths

Myths about foods for your heart are abundant. Here is "food for thought" to help reveal the truths:

Myth # 1: Canned food is high in sodium.

Fact # 1: Canned vegetables and fruit can be just as nutritious as fresh.  If salt is added during the canning process, it’s because of taste, not food safety.  Rinsing the food will remove up to 40% of the sodium. "No sodium" and "low sodium" options are readily available for many products. 

Myth # 2: Eggs make your cholesterol increase.

Fact # 2: The science got scrambled on this one. Eggs are high in cholesterol, so decades ago it was assumed they were not heart-healthy.  Now researchers have learned that cholesterol in food contributes very little to the cholesterol in your blood, which is made in the liver.  Extensive studies have shown that people who eat an egg a day have no increased risk of heart attacks.   So enjoy eggs.  And don’t stop at the egg whites, egg yolks are one of the few foods that contain vitamin D and other nutrients not found in the egg whites.

Myth # 3: Avoid fat for heart health.

Fact # 3: Twenty-five years ago, low-fat diets were all the rage.  Since then, it’s been discovered that different fats affect the heart in different ways.  Unsaturated fats, like those found in nuts, fish, avocados and canola and olive oil have turned out to be protective of heart health.

Chicken Garden Casserole
Serves:  4
Recipe adapted from Del Monte

All you need:

1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1 (10.5 oz. or 10.75 oz.) can low- or reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup skim milk
1 (14.5 oz.) can sliced carrots, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can no-salt-added cut green beans, drained
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Combine rice, chicken, soup, milk, carrots, green beans, tarragon and black pepper. Spoon into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
4. Bake, uncovered, in preheated 350°F oven for 40 minutes until heated through.


Vegetable Sauté
Serves:  8
Recipe adapted from Del Monte 

All you need:

2 tbsp. canola oil
1-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. crushed dried basil
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 (14.5 oz.) can peas, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can carrots, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can green beans, drained

All you do:

1. Heat oil in large skillet; add mushrooms. Cook and stir over medium-high heat 3 minutes.
2. Combine broth, cornstarch, basil and pepper; add to skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.
3. Add peas, carrots and green beans and heat through.

Jen Haugen represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community.  Jenis a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson.