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Support your cardiovascular health with these 25 Heart Healthy Recipes that are both easy and delicious. They’ll help keep your heart strong, your tastebuds happy, and your tummy satisfied!
Does Food Impact Your Heart Health?
Absolutely. While there are many things that impact your cardiovascular health, food is an important one – and one that you likely have the most control over. Certain foods that are high in trans fat can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries, which leads increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
While genetics do also play a role in your heart health, there are several things you can do to improve your heart health. These include:
- Live an active lifestyle to keep blood pressure and weight under control and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
- Don’t smoke.
- Keep alcohol consumption in moderation.
- Control stress and anxiety.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
Know your risk factors, talk to your doctor, and take action to protect your heart health and inspire others to take action.
What Is A Heart Healthy Diet?
So when exactly does it mean to eat a heart healthy diet? Here are a few guidelines.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Besides being low in calories, produce provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals, many of which are known to protect the heart. These can be fresh, frozen, or canned, but watch the sodium levels in vegetables from a can and added sugar in packaged fruit.
- Increase fiber intake from whole grains. Fiber regulates blood pressure, can lower “bad” cholesterol, fills you up, and helps move fats through your system. So be sure most of your grains are fiber-rich whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread (if you are not gluten free. If you are, choose whole grain gluten free bread).
- Be smart about fats. Eliminate trans fats, reduce saturated fats, and focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from plant sources like olive oil, nuts and nut butter, seeds, and avocados. Also try to eat more sources of omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
- Choose good protein sources. Fish and poultry are your best options for animal proteins, but if you choose other meats, be sure to choose lean cuts to avoid adding extra saturated fat to your diet. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils as well as eggs are other good choices for protein.
- Dairy is good in moderation. The calcium in dairy products is good for your heart, but you’ll want to limit your intake of full-fat dairy which can be high in saturated fat or choose non-fat or low-fat options.
- Reduce sodium. Watch the salt you add, but especially the sodium levels in packaged and processed foods. Instead, add flavor with herbs, spices, vinegar, and citrus.
- Watch your portion sizes. Remember, all things are in moderation!
What Foods Are Considered Heart Healthy?
According to sources like WebMD, the following foods help support your cardiovascular health:
- Fresh herbs
- Olive oil
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Sweet potatoes
This is just a short list of examples. It’s also important to remember that you should also focus on everything in moderation. Just because olive oil can support heart healthy doesn’t mean you should add it to every meal.
25 Heart Healthy Meals, Snacks, and Desserts
Enjoying wholesome and nutritious meals that are good for your cardiovascular system shouldn’t be hard or bland or boring. In fact, some of the most flavorful ingredients are the best for your heart health, and you’ll find many of them in these dishes!
Disclosure: This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Heart Truth® several years back. All opinions are 100% mine.
February might have most people thinking about their making hearts happy for Valentine’s Day. But since it is American Heart Month, make sure you think about the heart health of everyone you love – your partner, your children, your mom and dad, your friends and other loved ones.
Give a gift from the heart by doing something good for their health and yours. Cook your mom one of these heart healthy meals from the recipes listed above. Go for a long walk with your sister. Make plans to join a gym or exercise class with some friends. Get your kids in the kitchen to cook heart healthy recipes. And if you just can’t resist candy, treat yourself to a small bit of good quality dark chocolate.
I hope this gives you inspiration and motivation to take charge of your heart health.
Every February during American Heart Month, I am reminded of the importance of cardiac health, but honestly, it is something on my mind on a daily basis. That is why I partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) The Heart Truth program to help raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease amongst women. We’re also sharing what you can do to reduce your risk factors for heart disease.
I will share my personal story and advice from the heart, along with some recipe ideas for a heart-healthy diet.
Heart Healthy is Important for Everyone
I remember that morning at work. I was away from my desk and cell phone for a while. When I saw multiple missed calls and a voicemail from my dad’s wife, I knew something was wrong. My dad had a heart attack. He nearly died. He was 49.
That was 2004, and luckily he is still with us today. But shortly after his heart attack, I had another shock. When updating my family history with my doctor, she recommended I have my cholesterol checked.
The results came back and it was over 250. I was 25 years old, ate a fairly healthy diet, and worked out regularly. Truly, I did not look like someone who would have one of the risk factors for heart disease.
I blamed it on the fact that I had just spent two months in Europe for work, and definitely enjoyed my share of pastries and gelato and other indulgences. While there, I was not working out as much as I usually had, and had gained a few pounds.
So I cleaned up my diet, started getting more physical activity again, lost weight, and two months later, my cholesterol had not changed. So yes, other than while pregnant and nursing, I have been on cholesterol medication since I was in my mid-twenties.
Genetics may not be on my side, but there are things I can do to control my other risk factors. And since this disease, and especially awareness of risk factors and steps to lead a heart-healthy life, is near and dear to MY heart (literally and figuratively), I have been taking these actions ever since. This is particularly true since heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.