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How to Eat Less Red Meat

Last updated: April 2023

Some of us with heart failure may have stents, or for some other reason, have been told to try to limit the amount of saturated fat we eat. For me, this was an overwhelming task to handle because I am already trying to manage a restricted sodium diet as well. For those who might be having to watch their saturated fat intake for the first time, I get it, and I hope that the ideas below help give you a place to start.

Eating less red meat while managing heart failure

Here are some possible ways that someone may move toward eating less red meat, or other saturated fat, in their diet.

  • Take care of the low-hanging fruit first. For instance, oat milk in coffee instead of milk, or yogurt bars instead of ice creams, are a few of the first things I started changing in my diet. However, I think the idea of low-hanging fruit applies to anything that you could easily replace. Is there something in your diet that you can replace, like instead of snacking on sausage bites how about popcorn? Instead of taking away the meat at dinner, how about reducing the portion size and filling up on a vegetable or (high-quality) starch side instead? I think we need to take stock of what is easy to change and what is hard and start with easy first!
  • What do I eat besides meat if I hate tofu? Beans, lentils, and fish can all be good possible options.
  • If taking meat out of your diet is too hard, try to reduce your consumption of red meat and fill up on chicken, turkey, and pork. These may be good alternatives. Quite honestly, beef versus turkey chili does not really taste that much different to me. However, if that does not work you can always go half and half - half beef and half turkey, or half beef and half lentils. Get creative!
  • Think about casseroles as a way to reduce your meat intake and increase your vegetable intake, especially as a potential one-pot meal that can be made in larger quantities. A lot of casseroles can be made with lower sodium by using no or low-sodium canned products (make sure you are reading labels when buying ingredients in a grocery store as well). Other people dining with you can always add table salt, if necessary. Look up frittatas, chicken and broccoli casseroles, or even baked pasta as well. Keep in mind that casseroles that have cream-based sauces can have a lot of saturated fat, even though there is no meat.
  • If you want to ease yourself into this, you can always try just one meat-free meal a week at first. This can be used as a good time to experiment with other ingredients and sauces, knowing that you are going back to other ingredients.

Give yourself time to adjust. I hope these ideas help you on your journey to a lower saturated-fat diet!

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Have you made any adjustments to your diet, eating less red meat, or eating low-sodium foods, related to heart failure? Share your personal experience with the community by clicking the button below.

Editor's Note: Remember, everyone is different, and it is important to consult your physician before making changes to your diet, so they can help you make the most informed decision for you.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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