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Savor the Flavor with these Heart-Healthy SWEET TREATS

Sweets and treats aren’t off-limits if you’re on a heart-healthy diet.

Sweets and treats aren’t off-limits if you’re on a heart-healthy diet. You just have to plan ahead, said CalvertHealth registered dietitian Karen Mohn, RD, LDN. “There are a lot of options that are low in fat and sugar, make use of heart-smart substitutions, feature fresh fruit or focus on smaller portions.”

According to Mohn, a good place to start is by watching the amount of sugar you consume as well as the fat calories. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends women not have more than 24 grams total or six teaspoons of added sugar per day; for men it’s 36 grams or nine teaspoons of added sugar.

She went on to add, “When it comes to the fat, usually I’d say not to have more than 5-7 grams of fat per item … 10 grams would be a lot.” The AHA recommends limiting your fat intake to 30 percent of your total calories. This translates to 66 grams of fat based on 2,000 calories daily.

Planning Is the Key

“I tell people you plan your money so you are able to go on a vacation,” said Mohn. “Planning your meals and snacks helps you to make healthy choices and to meet your calorie needs. If you don’t plan ahead, it’s easy to overspend.”

She went on to add, “Usually, for a snack or dessert, I suggest you keep it under 200 calories. Otherwise, it may take away from the calories needed for a healthy meal.”

Maybe, you learn to like your coffee black so you can have a sweet treat later. “Don’t beat yourself up and feel guilty,” advises Mohn. “Take a bite or two, eat it slowly. Take the time to taste it and enjoy it … savor every morsel. You can learn to be satisfied with just a few bites. The first bite is always the best.”

Make Every Calorie Count

“Personally, I like doing things with fruit,” said Mohn. “It’s naturally sweet and full of fiber and nutrients. A baked apple with a drizzle of honey, raisins and cinnamon can be as satisfying as a slice of apple pie. Top angel food cake with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped topping and you’ve got a much healthier strawberry shortcake.”

“One of my favorite treats is frozen fruit,” said Mohn. “I love frozen cherries because they are sweet and refreshing, the same thing with grapes.”

She also suggests cutting one-half of a banana in little slices, drizzling them with a tiny bit of dark chocolate syrup and putting them in the freezer. According to Mohn, dark chocolate – with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa – is rich in flavonoids that are considered heart healthy.

“If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make your own homemade goodies,” said Mohn, “you can substitute ingredients to make them healthier. For instance, if a recipe calls for oil, you can use equal amounts of unsweetened applesauce instead or if it calls for an egg use two egg whites. In most recipes, you can cut out 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar without noticing any change in flavor or texture.”
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