Susan Rodder of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Preventive Cardiology Program in Dallas said most people know a heart-healthy diet includes olive or canola oil rather than butter, less animal protein and processed food, and more fish, beans, whole grains and vegetables.
Food companies, in turn, are reducing the number of added ingredients, minimizing trans fats, adding more whole grain and reducing sodium content.
"It is encouraging that heart-healthy eating habits are becoming more prevalent, but nonetheless, preparing a healthy dinner while trying to squeeze in a little exercise and help with homework still presents a daily challenge," Rodder said in a statement.
Rodder suggests those trying to eat healthier to:
-- "Fix and freeze" meals. If you do this as you unpack your groceries, you'll have prepared at least one ready-made meal for the upcoming week.
-- Use a slow-cook recipe to minimize food preparation and cleanup time.
-- Have a Meatless Mondays, a concept started during World War I to ration protein for the troops.
-- Pack in potassium. One of the cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet is lowering sodium intake. Studies of the DASH -- Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension -- diet has shown that getting sufficient potassium is equally important. Serve foods rich in potassium such as fruit, milk and yogurt, lower-sodium tomato products and beans.