Forget your former throw-whatever-looks-good-into-the-cart approach and bring this list next time you head to the supermarket. Stocking your pantry with these heart healthy choices will set you up for cholesterol-success.
For the cupboard
- Canned beans, such as black, white, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney.*
- Dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, prunes, apricots, and dates.
- Whole wheat flour for baking.
- Apple sauce for baking.*
- A good bottle of virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
- Canola oil.
- Canned salmon and water-packed tuna.*
- Canned clams.*
- Canned sardines.*
- Canned fruit packed in its own juices or in light syrup.*
- Quick-cooking or old-fashioned oatmeal, but not the instant kind.
- Whole grain mix for pancakes and waffles.
- Cans of chopped tomatoes flavored with herbs, onions, or garlic for tossing with pasta.*
- Peanut butter (the natural kind, made without hydrogenated oil or added sugar).*
- Jarred artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and flavorful spreads, all of which can add pizzazz to pasta, rice, couscous, or other grains.*
*Refrigerate after opening
For the fridge
- Low-fat mayonnaise.
- Hard, flavorful cheeses like Romano or Parmesan.
- A sterol-based spread such as Benecol or Take Control, or a margarine free of trans fats (such as Smart Balance).
For the freezer
- Frozen veggie or soy burgers.
- Frozen turkey meatballs.
- Frozen vegetables in bags.
- Frozen berries.
- Fillets of frozen fish, not breaded (slip unthawed pieces into simmering poaching liquid for a fast meal).
Fruits and vegetables
- At least one fruit or vegetable of every color: red, green, orange, and yellow.
- Eggplant and mushrooms (for meatless meals).
- Bags of prewashed lettuce.
- Bags of baby carrots.
- Precut vegetables.
- Something new for you, like mango, star fruit, jicama, or bok choy.
Breads and grains
- Bread with the word “whole” in the first ingredient.
- Cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Brown rice (regular or Minute Rice).
- Other grains, such as bulgur, barley, and quinoa.
- Whole wheat pasta.
- For a splurge, buy fresh-baked rounds of sourdough, rosemary, or olive bread for dipping in olive oil.
Meat and poultry
- Extra lean loin and round cuts.
- Chicken breasts.
- Ground turkey.
- Free-range meats, if you can find them (they’re generally lower in fat).
- Game meats.
- Fresh fish, especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
- Fresh shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, or mussels.
- Low-fat cheese.
- Strong-flavored cheeses like blue and feta.
- Nonfat or low-fat yogurt.
- Nonfat milk (low-fat is okay if you’re not ready to drop all the way to nonfat just yet).
- Eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Firm tofu.
- Soy crumbles (found in the frozen food section).
- Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds.
- Flaxseed, available in health food stores and some grocery stores.
- Wheat germ.
- Hot sauces.
- Spicy mustard.
- Prechopped garlic and ginger.
- Low-fat vinegar-based salad dressings and marinades.
- Plum sauce, black bean sauce, and other Asian sauces for vegetable stir-fries.
- Vegetable juice or 100 percent fruit juice.
- Green or black tea.