According to the American Heart Association, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is the best step you can take to fight cardiovascular disease. While people often assume that adhering to a heart healthy diet means limiting the foods that they currently enjoy and eating the same dishes over and over, this is not the case at all!
Eating for your heart doesn't have to be hard or boring. There are so many delicious and flavorful products available that have an outsized impact on lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and reducing and controlling weight.
We’ve broken down one ingredient per meal to help inspire your next trip to the grocery store. Regardless of what meal, snack or treat you are enjoying, all of the ingredients below will help keep your heart healthy and your tummy happy.
Breakfast - Blueberries
These bite-size berries prove that good things really do come in small packages. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C, along with compounds that can help widen your arteries.
Skip the sugar-laden yogurt in the AM and opt for plain Greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries. The protein in the yogurt will help keep you full, and the berries will sweeten up the otherwise tart treat. Blueberries are also a delicious addition to whole grain cereals in the morning or worked into overnight oats. For weekends when there’s more time for cooking, blueberry pancakes made with fiber-rich whole-wheat flour are another treat that will help keep you full.
Lunch - Quinoa
Quinoa is a heart–healthy grain that packs a powerful punch of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. With fewer calories and carbohydrates per serving, it’s a perfect stand-in for rice and couscous in many of your favorite dishes, and it pairs really well with legumes like red beans and chickpeas. Try topping a serving of quinoa with black beans, avocado and your favorite salsa for a fresh, heart-friendly take on the burrito bowl.
How Healthy Is Your Heart? Learn more at Ochsner.org/HeartMonth
Snack - Almonds
Not only can almonds decrease your LDL (bad) cholesterol, they also may help you lose weight which your heart will thank you for. These popular nuts are high in fiber, protein and antioxidants which can help protect against inflammation and heart disease. And the good news is there’s no need to pack a sad snack of dry nuts. Try roasting almonds in the oven in a light coating of olive oil, sea salt, chili powder and fresh rosemary to up the flavor while keeping them healthy.
Dinner - Salmon
Salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids. Sometimes referred to as omega 3’s, this fatty acid is a type of unsaturated fat that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body and prevent heart disease and stroke. Salmon is also great source of protein to keep you feeling full longer.
Rethink your taco Tuesday by pairing seasoned and seared salmon filets with a cabbage slaw on corn tortillas. Or give this salmon mango salad with zesty Tabasco citrus vinaigrette from Superior Grill a try.
Dessert – Dates
Make fiber-rich Medjool dates your ‘date’ for dessert. Native to Morocco, these compact stone fruits are packed with healthy nutrients. They are naturally sweet with a caramel-like flavor and are often sold dried in supermarkets or natural food stores.
Dates can do a lot of heavy lifting in heart healthy recipes because they provide both a natural sweetness as well as body and structure to a recipe. Whip up these salted caramel pumpkin spice collagen balls or apple and date bites, which are packed with fruit and protein.
One Final Note
Don’t hesitate to mix and match! All the ingredients above are a great option regardless of which meal you’re planning for. Apple and date bites make a great post-lunch snack that won’t leave you in a sugar coma. Blueberries and quinoa can combine to create a powerful protein-filled breakfast that will power you through your morning, and almonds are delicious whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
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