Eating Out When Dealing With Heart Disease

Right after receiving a diagnosis of hypertension or high cholesterol, you might feel as if all the new restrictions and requirements will mean that you’ll never be able to dine out again.

And though it’s safe to say that most fast food is now forbidden fruit for you, with an attitude adjustment and a greater nutritional awareness, you can score a heart-healthy meal even at the greasiest restaurant. Here are a few ideas on what to load up on and what to steer clear of.

By all means, order...

Whole grain bread: A good choice for a starter, whole grain bread is a great source of fiber, which will sop up the excess bad cholesterol in your system. Make it even better by dipping the bread in some omega-3-rich extra virgin olive oil.

Fruits and vegetables: You can never get enough of the green stuff, which is especially true when you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins C and E, like strawberries, oranges, broccoli, peppers, kiwi, and spinach, are excellent cholesterol busters. Spinach is also good at keeping hypertension in check because of its potassium and magnesium content.

Grilled lean meats: Fish is a particularly super selection from this category. Halibut is high in magnesium, which keeps the heart’s rhythm in time, and salmon is a good source of not only omega-3 but also calcium, which helps the blood vessels dilate and constrict.

By any means necessary, avoid...

Sauces and gravies: Since they’re often derived from some sort of animal fat, they’re also likely to be high in saturated fat and therefore better served on the side.

Soups: Though it’s true that not all soups are created equal, many are incredibly salty. So you should probably stay away from them altogether unless you know for a fact that the consommé in question was made from a low-sodium recipe. Other high sodium foods include those that have been pickled or smoked or contain broth or soy sauce.

Red meat: A primary source of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, red meat endangers not only your cardiovascular system but your longevity as well. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the more red meat you eat, the greater the likelihood of your dying prematurely. Processed, cured, and organ meats are also no good because they’re high in sodium or cholesterol or both.

Fried anything: All that oil and intense heat adds up to a whole lot of calories and a wad of cholesterol that will soon be clogging your arteries. Menu items that claim to be scalloped, au gratin, pan-fried, sautéed, or stuffed are also likely to be full of fat and calories.




Rashmi Sinha, Amanda J. Cross, Barry I. Graubard, Michael F. Leitzmann, Arthur Schatzkin. Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People. Arch Intern Med, Mar 2009.