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Montefiore in the News

February 11, 2010

Montefiore Nutritionist Offers Heart-Healthy Tips for American Heart Month

Bronx, NY (February 11, 2010) -- Eating right should be a simple, enjoyable way to help keep your heart healthy. So why is it so hard to stick to a healthy eating lifestyle? Could be we're having trouble sorting through the abundance of nutrition advice that's out there. Jessica Shaffer, MS, RD, cardiac nutritionist at Montefiore Medical Center, offers the following tips to help guide you toward better eating habits: 

Good foods to eat

•·        Increase soluble fiber found in oatmeal, rice bran, barley, beans, berries, apples and citrus fruits

•·        Aspire to consume 25-35 grams of total fiber each day

•·        Swap low-fiber foods (like white rice and white bread) for high-fiber foods with "whole grains" as the first ingredient (like brown rice, whole wheat bread and cereals)

•·        "Eat your colors" by enhancing your meals and snacks with a variety of fruits and veggies

•·        Aim for at least two servings a week of omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish: mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon

•·        Cook with monounsaturated fats from olive, canola, sunflower and peanut oils

•·        Incorporate plant sterols or stanols fortified in some margarines, juices and yogurt drinks

•·        Drink up with non-fat and low-fat dairy products


Trim down saturated and trans fats

Mainly found in animal products and hydrogenated oils such as:

•·        Fatty cuts of meat, organ meats and processed meats

•·        Skin of poultry

•·        Whole-milk/full-fat dairy products

•·        Tropical oils such as palm, palm kernel and coconut

•·        Fried foods

•·        Lard, cream and butter

•·        Many snacks and sweets

•·        Egg yolks (no more than 4 a week)


Please pass the salt... and keep passing...

New York City is coordinating the effort of the National Salt Reduction Initiative with a nationwide goal of a 20 percent reduction of salt intake to be achieved by reducing the sodium in processed and restaurant food by 25 percent.

What can I do now?

•·        Your body only needs 2300mg of salt to function (or 1500mg for middle-aged and older adults, African Americans or if you have high blood pressure)

•·        Choose food labels that tell us the food is: sodium-free, low-sodium, very low in sodium, light in sodium, reduced or less in sodium and/or unsalted

•·        Be wary of foods with reputations for being loaded with sodium:

•-         Most cheeses

•-         Instant cereals and ready-to-eat cereals

•-         Canned vegetables

•-         Boxed and flavored mixes of rice, potatoes, noodles and couscous

•-         Canned and pre-made soups

•-         Seasonings made with salt

•-         Pickled foods

•-         Snack foods (chips, crackers, etc)

•-         Sauces and condiments (salad dressing, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, marinades, gravies, pasta sauces, etc)

•-         Smoked, salted and cured meats (bacon, sausage, deli meats, etc)

•-         Canned seafood

•-         Frozen dinners

•·        Use less salt or no salt when preparing foods; instead experiment with fresh and dried herbs and spices

•·        Drain and rinse canned foods to remove some sodium

•·        At restaurants do not use the salt shaker and request that your food not to be cooked with salt


It's never too early to start caring for your heart

•·        Teach kids to enjoy and appreciate food

•·        Introduce and reintroduce healthy foods through different cooking methods

•·        Young children have an innate ability to self-regulate the amount of nutrition they need, so do not force them to "clean the plate"

•·        Do not buy unhealthy foods; out of sight, out of mind

•·        Kids mimic their parents behaviors, so be a good role model

•·        Include kids in the grocery shopping and prep work

•·        Kids are more likely to overindulge if they are deprived of foods, so do not entirely skip out on treats

•·        Moderation and balance is key