NC)-Grab your chef's apron and get set to take your health to heart. Eating smart is one of your best weapons against heart disease, and what better place to give your diet a heart healthy boost than in your own kitchen.

The key to heart healthy cooking is to use less fat, especially saturated fat, and add more fibre, as this will help to control blood cholesterol levels. To get started on heart smart cooking, try applying the following tips:

1. Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats including butter, shortening and lard.

If added fat is needed in cooking or frying, limit the amount you use and substitute saturated fat with fats that contain a high proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The latter are good fats that actively lower blood cholesterol levels, and can be found in vegetable oils and soft, non-hydrogenated margarine.

2. Use reduced-fat cooking methods where possible.

Always consider using cooking methods that do not require adding fat, such as roasting, broiling and steaming. Summer is the perfect time to make use of your barbecue. Not only is it fast and fun, it's healthier too, as grills and barbecues allow fat to run off.

3. Manage your serving sizes.

The average man should have no more than 90 grams of total fat per day, and the average woman should have no more than 65 grams per day. Most of these fats should be monounsaturated,and polyunsaturated (not saturated or trans fat). Knowing how much fat is in the food you eat is the first step to getting rid of some, so look for the Nutrition Facts panel on food packaging.

4. Use herbs and spices instead of fat for flavour.

Fat tends to intensify the flavour of foods, so when you lower the fat in your recipes, be sure to compensate by increasing the amount of herbs and spices. Try flavouring food with vinegars and lemon juice.

5. Increase the amount of fibre in your diet to 25 to 35 grams a day.

Fibre is an important component of food that helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Stock your cupboards and refrigerator full of vegetables, fruit and legumes, such as peas and beans, lentils and whole grain cereals.

Good food is one of life's great joys. It is an even greater pleasure when you can rest assured it's good for your heart.

Courtesy of News Canada

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(NC)óWith the cost of food on the rise, there's no better time to start growing your own organic herbs, fruits and vegetables. The best part about incorporating edible items into the garden (aside from the taste and health benefits) is that you don't need to be an avid gardener or have a large garden space to get started.

Herbs and vegetables can easily be grown right in your backyard garden or in containers on your patio or balcony. Certain items such as tomatoes come in a variety of vibrant colours and when mixed in with traditional flowers and plants, make for breathtaking displays.