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Heart-healthy cooking to prevent stroke

Heart-healthy cooking to prevent stroke

St. Mary’s Medical Center

Your heart and brain need nutritious foods to stay healthy. And while we all know the importance of a balanced diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins and is low in sodium and both saturated and trans fats, did you know maintaining a healthful diet requires more than just choosing the right foods?

How you prepare your food is just as important.

There are many different methods to cut cholesterol, trim fat and reduce calories without sacrificing taste or spending all day in the kitchen. On behalf of the medical professionals at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, here are a few tips to help you serve more savory dishes that are both heart smart and nutritious.

Tips on Healthful Meal Preparation

  • Roast, grill or broil using a rack so the meat or poultry does not sit in its own fat drippings.
  • Stir-fry in a wok with vegetable stock, wine or a little bit of peanut oil.
  • Steam foods in a basket over simmering water.
  • Poach chicken or fish by immersing it in simmering liquid.

Make Nutritious Substitutions

You can make your favorite recipes more heart healthy by substituting certain ingredients to reduce fat, cholesterol and sodium.

  • Instead of heavy cream, use evaporated fat-free milk.
  • Replace sour cream with low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat or nonfat yogurt.
  • Instead of shortening, use olive, canola or safflower oil.
  • Exchange canned vegetables for fresh or frozen vegetables.
  • When baking, replace oil, shortening or butter with ripe mashed bananas or applesauce.
  • Use lower-cholesterol meats, such as beef round, sirloin, loin and ground beef that is 15 percent fat or less or ground turkey and chicken breast with the skin removed.

In addition to being mindful of your eating habits, it’s important to remember to stay active.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both).

Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Physical activity is anything that involves moving your body and burning calories. Aerobic exercises that are good for your heart include walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bicycle.

But don’t forget strength and stretching exercises that are beneficial for stamina and flexibility. Being active can help prevent and control both high blood pressure and diabetes and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Other Benefits of Healthful Eating

Did you know that there is a connection between heart disease and your risk of having a stroke? Eating foods high in fat or sodium can result in high blood pressure, which is the most important risk factor for stroke. Maintaining a healthful diet and active lifestyle are crucial steps in the fight against these conditions.

As the only Comprehensive Stroke Center — the highest level available — in northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, St. Mary’s Medical Center offers the community access to advanced technology and skilled specialists who are capable of handling the most complex stroke cases. Additionally, we are proud to be a member of the Advanced Neuroscience Network (ANN), an integrated delivery system of medical professionals and hospitals focused on offering a full continuum of neurological care throughout Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

St. Mary’s Medical Center is also a recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll-Elite Plus. This distinction is the highest honor a hospital can achieve for stroke care, and means the stroke team treated 50 percent or more of acute ischemic stroke patients with IV tPA within 45 minutes of their arrival at the hospital.

To help individuals recognize their risk factors associated with stroke, St. Mary’s offers free stroke screenings and educational lectures for the community. To schedule a stroke screening, call 888-901-0861 or visit

St. Mary’s Medical Center

901 45 St.

West Palm Beach, FL 33407