Fish Twice a Week
Fish, especially cold-water fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and herring, are rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentenoic acid (EPA), heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the rate of plaque buildup, decrease triglycerides, and slightly lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating two, three-ounce fish meals per week.
Food Fix: Try adding an easy-to-make fish such as salmon to your family's weekly menu. (Sorry, deep-fried fish fillets don't count.) If you're a novice at cooking fish, try this basic preparation: Rub with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees F until opaque throughout, about 15 to 20 minutes. In general, eating heart-healthy isn't about drastic change; it's a cumulative process. "Once you find a heart-healthy meal that's easy to prepare that the whole family likes, then add another," says Thayer. If you just don't like eating fish, try incorporating flaxseed oil. It's a rich source of heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). One teaspoon of the oil a day is all you need to get a beneficial dose (1.5 grams). But since flaxseed oil breaks down with heat, don't use it for cooking. "I make homemade vinaigrette with it," says McCoin.