Ingrid Hoffmann Talks Heart Health Month & The Biggest Misconception About Healthy Foods!

Are you treating your heart right? February is Heart Health Month so there's no better time to look at the foods and dishes you're feeding yourself and your familia and see if they pass the "heart healthy" test. We caught up with colombiana Ingrid Hoffmann, celebrity chef, author and host of Simply Delicioso, to talk health misconceptions, ingredient swaps and more!

What's the number one misconception when it comes to cooking heart healthy foods?

The biggest misconception is that you have to go on a diet to eat and be healthy. I don’t believe in diets – they only cause us to fall off the wagon and binge. My philosophy is to make small lifestyle changes that add up to make a difference in your health without feeling deprived. For example, simple swaps in recipes can be big on health benefits and also big on flavor.   

What foods are heart healthy? What should readers strive to avoid? 

When it comes to healthy eating, I like to focus on colorful, flavorful ingredients. Incorporating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables like spinach, tomatoes and peppers into a meal makes my plate look more appetizing and adds nutritional value. I also use what I call my “power powders,” or spices, to add flavor and kick to lean protein, vegetables and so on without adding calories or fat. I avoid processed flour and sugar and instead highlight naturally-delicious ingredients like fresh chopped cilantro or homemade spice blends.

What are some easy ingredient swaps to make foods more heart healthy?

I recommend making sure there is always at least one vegetable or salad on my plate. When I’m craving something starchy, I swap it for brown rice or quinoa, like my Yellow Pepper Quinoa which has a spicy kick. When it comes to cooking oil, which we all use from our eggs in the morning to sautéing vegetables for dinner, I choose corn oil. It’s versatile enough to use in all my dishes whether I stir-fry, sauté, grill or bake, and most importantly, a recent study found corn oil lowers LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil. Swapping to corn oil in the kitchen helps the natural flavors of my food shine through while also providing health benefits.

Why should we even be concerned about this at all? 

Heart disease continues to be one of the main causes of death among Latinos. It’s important that we educate ourselves and our families to prevent this disease from impacting our lives and the lives of our children, and lifestyle changes start with what we make and eat in the kitchen.

Find out an easy Latin dish to make on page 2 >>

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Samantha Leal, Deputy Editor

Sam edits and oversees all site content with a focus on fashion, beauty and lifestyle. When she's not working, you can find her watching way too many YouTube videos and reading (YA novels, mostly). Follow her on Twitter @samanthajoleal.

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