Now is a good time to stock your kitchen with ingredients that will help you weather tough economic times and help your customers stick with their healthy New Year resolutions. The following heart-smart ingredients are all less than $1 per serving, free of artificial trans fat and relatively low in saturated fat, while offering important nutrients.
1. Canola Oil
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim that 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil per day may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Canola oil is free of trans fat and has the least saturated fat and the most omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) of all common cooking oils.
Pulse crops, such as lentils and dry beans (e.g., black and red kidney beans), contain nutrients found in both vegetable and meat food groups, including significant protein, fiber, folate, iron and other minerals. Lentils and dry beans are naturally low in fat, calories, sodium, and sugar and cholesterol-free.
3. Chicken (and eggs)
Both the chicken and the egg come first regarding nutrition. A skinless chicken breast has roughly 24 grams of complete protein and less than 1 gram of saturated fat. One egg has 13 essential nutrients, including protein, folate, choline, iron and zinc, for only 75 calories.
4. Lean Proteins
Ninety-five percent lean ground beef has only 2.4 grams of saturated fat and is high in protein, zinc, B vitamins, iron, selenium and phosphorus. Low-fat cottage cheese is a great source of protein and calcium.
Not only high in protein and B vitamins, canned or pouch tuna and salmon are excellent sources of heart-smart omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Tuna and salmon also offer a range of minerals, such as selenium and phosphorus.
Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and green beans are free of saturated fat and cholesterol and good sources of fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C. Broccoli is also high in folate and a good source of potassium. Spinach is high in vitamin A, iron, and folate and a good source of magnesium.
Apples, bananas, and citrus fruits are fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free. Apples are particularly high in fiber. Bananas are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C; oranges are also a good source of fiber and pink/red grapefruit is high in vitamin A.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains are among the best sources of dietary fiber, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also have some valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables as well as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and magnesium.
Raisins are a good source of antioxidants, potassium, iron, and fiber. They are fat- and cholesterol-free and naturally low in sodium.
10. Root Vegetables
Underground vegetables like carrots and potatoes are fat- and cholesterol-free and low in sodium. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and good source of vitamin C with few calories. Potatoes are high in vitamin C and a good source of potassium.