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Healthy eating habits start at home

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Did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food? Dining out can be hard on your heart, because restaurant food is often loaded with sodium.

Don’t throw in the towel on healthy eating! Saving money while eating healthier is easier than you might think. The American Heart Association has healthy tips, recipes and guides to make it easier to prepare more meals at home. Start with these tips:

Enjoy meals together. You can keep an eye on your kids’ plates and steer them to make healthy choices.

Get kids involved in planning and making meals. The quality time with the family will be an added bonus.

Substitute healthier ingredients whenever you can. Here are some examples of healthier swaps.

When you use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower.

Limit added sugars. Sugar-sweetened beverages are a big source of added sugars. Reduce or cut out soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks as well as enhanced waters, sweetened teas and sugary coffee drinks. Drink more plain water instead, and add a wedge of fresh lemon or lime for a twist.

Eat more vegetables and fruits — fresh, frozen, dried or canned. Add them to dishes your family already loves and serve them as healthier sides, snacks and desserts. If you choose canned, watch for added sodium and sugars. If you choose frozen products with sauces, check the label for added salt.

• And of course, limit your sodium. Compare food labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium. And swap salt for herbs, spices, vinegars, or citrus juice to add flavor.

Be sure to take the pledge to reduce the sodium you eat. We’ll help you break up with salt and start a healthier relationship with food.