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Cooking with heart health in mind

(Family Features) — Healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult or require you to take favorite meals off your family’s menu. In fact, making smart choices when cooking at home can give you more control over the types of tasty, heart-healthy dishes you put on the table.

High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke, with about 38% of American adults diagnosed with high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. These cooking tips can help you prepare heart-healthy meals that could help improve cholesterol levels by reducing excess saturated fat and trans fat.

Reduce Saturated Fat in Meat and Poultry

The amount of saturated fat in meats can vary widely, depending on the cut and how it’s prepared. Opt for poultry and fish over red meat and look for lean cuts of meat with minimal visible fat, which should be trimmed away before cooking. Also limit processed meats such as sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs, which are often high in calories, saturated fat and sodium.

Use Liquid Vegetable Oils in Place of Solid Fats

Some fats are better for you than others. Liquid vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean and olive oil can often be used instead of solid fats, such as butter, lard or shortening. If you must use margarine, try the soft or liquid kind.

Find more heart-healthy recipes and tips for lowering cholesterol at heart.org/cholesterol.

Grilled Tequila-Lime Chicken with Grilled Asparagus

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association

Servings: 4

1/4 cup tequila or white vinegar

2 teaspoons lime zest

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fat discarded

nonstick cooking spray

3 bunches asparagus spears, trimmed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons canola oil or corn oil

In small bowl, stir tequila, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Pour into large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken and seal bag tightly; turn bag to coat. Refrigerate 2-12 hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Lightly spray grates with nonstick cooking spray.

In large dish, sprinkle asparagus with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with oil. Turn asparagus over to coat.

Remove chicken from marinade. Discard marinade and wipe most of it off chicken. Sprinkle chicken with remaining pepper.

Grill 8-12 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Transfer to plate and cover with aluminum foil.

Place asparagus on grill, facing opposite direction of grates. Grill 7 minutes, or until tender crisp.

Serve asparagus with chicken.

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