There are many ways in which your heart can be negatively affected by your lifestyle habits. In fact, risk factors for the three leading causes of heart disease all include diet and nutrition. The foods that we eat have the ability to affect our blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, triglycerides and inflammation, all of which can negatively impact heart health.
Unfortunately, in large part to food and beverage marketing, many Americans have fallen prey to the belief that you have to sacrifice flavor in order to eat healthily which simply isn’t true. However, it may take some time for those with years of unhealthy eating habits under their belt to retrain their taste buds.
To get you started on your journey of taking control of your health, here are five of our favorite heart-healthy recipes:
1. Whole-Wheat Pasta With Broccolini and Feta
Research shows that eating three more servings of whole grains daily was associated with a 22% lower risk of heart disease. This delicious whole wheat pasta recipe would be great on its own or as a side dish with a lean protein such as salmon. With broccolini, radishes, orange zest, and feta, this dish is packed with nutrients and flavor and can be prepared in just 35 minutes. Although served warm or room temperature, it can easily be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2. Salmon with Avocado Salsa
The American Heart Association recommends eating a 3.5-ounce piece of fish two to three times a week because unlike other protein options, it is lower in cholesterol and saturated fats.
The best fish to eat for heart health are those rich in omega-3s such as salmon. This salmon recipe incorporates avocado–another heart-healthy ingredient. Marinated in lime juice, it’s a bright, fresh dish that is perfect for spring or summer. You could eat with a side of brown rice for an extra serving of whole grains or put it in a corn tortilla to make fish tacos.
3. Black Bean Burger
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care looked at 700 adults and found that 25 percent of people on a completely vegetarian diet had metabolic syndrome, compared to 37 percent of partial vegetarians and 39 percent of non-vegetarians. These findings support those of many other studies showing that a vegetarian diet is good for heart health and lowers your risk for high blood pressure and obesity.
While giving up meat all at once may not be realistic for you, with making small substitutions like this delicious, juicy black bean burger. Seasoned with fresh garlic, onions and bell peppers along with cumin, chili powder, paprika and Worcestershire sauce, this burger is packed with flavor. For an added serving of healthy fat, top with mashed avocado.
As a bonus, you can make them ahead and freeze the patties either cooked or uncooked for an easy weeknight meal.
4. Picadillo Pockets
It can be easy to succumb to the low-price and convenience of freezer aisle foods like Hot Pockets or Pizza Rolls, but by doing so you’re doing a disservice to your health.
Instead, you can make these picadillo pockets in under an hour. For $1.02 per serving, this recipe covers 9% of your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. If you’re looking to reduce the amount of red meat in your diet, you can mix in beans or lentils making it even more of a heart-healthy recipe.
We also suggest swapping the vegetable oil for an alternative such as olive oil or coconut oil, as some studies have linked vegetable oils as a contributor to the development of heart disease.
5. Blackberry Cobbler
Incorporating more heart-healthy recipes into your diet doesn’t mean you have to skip out on dessert. This blackberry cobbler will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also contains 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Blackberries are nutrient dense, and like other berries are high in antioxidants and polyphenols which may help prevent cancer and chronic disease including cardiovascular disease. In addition to containing high amounts of fiber, blackberries are also rich in vitamin C and contain a bit of iron, calcium and vitamin A.
When in season, we suggest purchasing blackberries from your local farmers market. You can freeze them at peak ripeness to have on hand throughout the year. If you cannot purchase them fresh, frozen berries are an acceptable substitute, but steer clear of canned blackberries as they often contain added sugars and preservatives.
Incorporating more heart-healthy recipes into your weekly rotation is a simple way to improve your health and reduce your risk of heart disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease or condition, being mindful of what you eat is imperative to prevent the recurrence of a heart event or worsening of your condition.
As an interventional cardiologist, Dr. Farhan Majeed of PULSE: The Heart, Valve and Vascular Institute in Port Charlotte, has a passion for improving the quality of life for every patient that walks into his practice. He specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiac, vascular, and structural heart disease.