Whether you're on the road to recovery from a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiovascular problem, or you're seeking to prevent such problems, heart-healthy food choices are important. Cooking more meals at home is a good step, as this will allow you optimal control over portions, ingredients, and the cooking method.

Thinking critically about your food-preparation process can help you establish a heart-healthy diet.

Understanding saturated fats

The oils we use to prepare some of our favorite dishes and meals are not created equal. Many of the most popular cooking oils are rife with saturated fats that can be extremely detrimental to your heart health. These oils are commonly used in many restaurants and fast-food establishments for food preparation, primarily because they tend to be cheaper than their healthier counterparts. When choosing your cooking oil in the supermarket, compare for the amount of saturated fats in each kind. The lower this number, the better.

Virgin olive oil vs. regular

You may not know it, but if you cook with olive oil, you’re already using one of the healthier oils. All olive oils are rich in monounsaturated fats, the healthy kind, so they are a worthwhile part of your diet, according to EatingWell.

Taste and smoke point

The conversation about which cooking oil is the healthiest option for you need not be a strictly practical one. According to The American Heart Association, canola, vegetable, olive, sesame, and peanut oils are all among the healthy cooking oil options available today. But they all have different flavors, best uses and smoke points (the temperature at which the oil can begin to burn). Experiment with a few to determine which is best for your style of cooking, and learn more about their smoke points here.

For more on eating for heart health:

Heart-Healthy Dinner: Go Fish!
Does Fish Oil Really Prevent Heart Disease?
Natural Treatments for Heart Disease and Depression