This food group is a good source of protein, which the body uses for growth and repair. It also supplies iron, zinc and B vitamins. Eating legumes, fish (especially oily fish), and seafood also helps to support a healthy heart.
Legumes are one of the most under-rated, healthy and affordable foods around. They can be eaten instead of meat or mixed into a dish to reduce the amount of meat you need to use. Legumes are dried peas and beans also known as pulses and come in a variety of shapes and colors. There are many different types including adzuki beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, mung beans, soybeans, pinto beans, red kidney beans and cannellini beans. They can either be soaked and cooked from dry, or bought pre-cooked in cans.
While legumes don’t feature in many traditional Kiwi dishes (other than good old baked beans), they are commonly eaten around the world from the Mediterranean to the Middle East, Caribbean, South America, and Asia. Grab them pre-cooked in a can for convenience, or cook them yourself for the lowest cost.
Fish and seafood
Fish is a great alternative to meat, and oily fish has the benefit of providing more heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. The oiliest fish are mackerel, sardines, salmon, kahawai, warehou, pilchards and herring. Canned fish can be a good source of omega-3 (choose fish canned in spring water rather than brine). To care for your heart, we recommend you eat fish twice a week, preferably oily fish.
Poultry and red meat
Animal foods can be high in saturated fat. Reducing saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats is good for your heart. So when choosing meat or chicken, choose lean cuts or remove the fat. On red meat, this is the white fat and on chicken, the skin.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Cut the fat off meat and skin off chicken
- Heat and drain the fat from canned corned beef
- Add a can of legumes to a dish and use less meat
- Steam, grill or pan fry fish instead of deep frying
- Instead of processed meats in sandwiches e.g. ham, salami, pastrami, try leftover cooked chicken or schnitzel meat, tinned fish, hummus, Mexican refried beans, peanut butter or boiled egg – and don’t forget to add your veges