Heart disease is one of the biggest health dangers in the country -- 830,000 people die each year due to some form of heart disease. The high-fat, high-salt American diet is largely to blame: It's easier to eat junk than reaching for a healthy alternative.
The deeper cause for heart disease is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that delivers cholesterol around the body and high sodium, which raises both blood pressure and the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
It's no fun to cut out salty snacks and red meat, but tasty alternatives can help you stay proactive about heart health without eating boiled chicken and rice cakes.
If health isn't your hot button, simply eating better can also save cash. Turkey is certainly cheaper than steak, and a good diet can help negate the need for expensive high-cholesterol medication.
Check out five easy alternatives that can go a long way ...
No. 5: Soy nuts
Snacking can be tough when you're keeping heart health in mind, but getting that crunchy fix is still possible without saying goodbye to flavor.
Studies show that nuts lower the level of bad LDL cholesterol, and even lower the risk of developing blood clots. Nuts are also packed with fiber and heart-healthy vitamin E.
Soy nuts might not sound like something satisfying to munch on, but, prepared right, they can give you a crunchy snack fix without munching on high-sodium or high-fat snacks.
Instead of reaching for chips, toast some soy nuts with Italian herbs and some olive oil. And instead of salty nuts, try some toasted soy nuts with a dusting of sea salt. Taco seasoning can also give soy nuts a little bit of spice.
Mixing those soy nuts with almonds or walnuts can make for a very satisfying medley that doesn't carry the high fat or high sodium of chips and dip.
No. 4: Turkey
The old way of heart-healthy eating meant sad, flavorless boiled chicken and white rice -- yuck.
But no more. With countless cuts of turkey in your grocery store, you can get away from those tired chicken breasts without reaching for red meat.
Burgers are the best, but getting that grill fix and staying healthy can be tricky.
Ground turkey, however, can be a great alternative for heart health that will still give you something to eat at the weekend barbecue.
You can spice it up with good herbs and grill it with olive oil. Pop some cheese on top for the whole package -- just stick to part-skim or a little high-flavor, small-serving gourmet cheese.
Turkey can also replace beef in spaghetti sauces to get a little more flavor beyond the vegetarian sauce snoozer. Get it ground or chop it roughly for a chunky meat sauce.
No. 3: Fish
Going without red meat is the No. 1 thing you can do to stay on top of your heart health. But going without a good steak can get awfully boring, and turkey just doesn't cut it sometimes.
So if you're looking for a big hearty meal, try a good size piece of salmon and some roast veggies. You'll get that big meat feeling, and plenty of taste, but instead of gristly beef fat, you're getting healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
While replacing all your meat with salmon might get expensive, other fish are also packed with those healthy fats. Trout and herring are great places to find those good fatty acids.