10 Foods to Help You Maintain a Healthy Heart

With heart disease being the leading cause of death, it’s no wonder why there is plenty of talk about being heart healthy. While a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that incorporate lean proteins and fish is key to a healthy lifestyle, there are a few foods that stand out in their healing power. Here are ten of them.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, nor is it a suggestion that these are the most heart-smart foods. These are just 10 foods to consider in your Heart-Healthy Lifestyle.

  1.Blueberries:

Full of antioxidants and folate, blueberries are known to fight heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. They also include plenty of fiber and vitamin C. Use them on top of your cereal and salads and add them to baked goods.

 2. Tofu and soymilk:

The soy-based products include plenty of healthy benefits and are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Tofu is a great meat substitute, and soymilk can replace the regular milk you drink and add to foods daily.

 3.Oatmeal:

Oatmeal is full of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, soluble fiber and folate. It’s a great start to your day, or you can add oats to your favorite baked cookies.

 4. Spinach:

This flavorful green vegetable includes calcium, fiber, potassium and B-complex vitamins. Use spinach in place of lettuce in salads and sandwiches. Cooked spinach is delicious as well.

 5. Salmon:

Oily fish are a good source of vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon has the highest concentration omega-3s, but tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, and anchovies are also the good source. You can grill salmon; add it to a stir-fry, pasta or even a salad.

 6. Flax seeds:

These small seeds pack a nutritional punch and are easy to add to foods, virtually unnoticed. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens, and fiber. Add them to your breakfast cereal, yogurt or baked items.

 7. Red wine:

Now, here’s some excellent news. Red wine has antioxidants that can improve your good cholesterol levels. Enjoy a glass now and then, knowing it’s right for you.

 8. Black and kidney beans:

These beans are high in soluble fiber, B-complex vitamins, and folate. Because they are low in fat, they’re a great protein source in your meals. Add them to soups, serve them over rice or make some chilli.

9. Almonds and walnuts:

Another great source omega-3s, these nuts are great as a snack by themselves or added to other foods. They also have mono and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, and fiber.

 10. Sweet potatoes:

Not only do they taste good, but sweet potatoes also have plenty to offer nutritionally. They are a great course of beta-carotene, fiber, and vitamins A, C and E. Eat them as a side dish or puree them into pancakes and muffins.

How can you incorporate these nutritious and flavorful foods into your diet? How about starting with a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, spinach salad for lunch and lovely grilled fish in the evening? And don’t forget that glass or red wine…it’s good for you!

How to Turn Your Delicious Recipes into Healthy Recipes

We all know cooking at home is a healthier choice over choosing the drive-thru or dining out. However, it’s important to remember that recipes are created simply for their texture and flavor, but don’t always take health into consideration. To make it easier for you to cook more healthfully, here are a few tips that you can use in a variety of recipes.

For many recipes, it’s easy to simply reduce the amount of fat or oil used to make cooking easier. Non-stick cookware means you need little or no fat when cooking on the stovetop. Greasing baking dishes is often unnecessary as well, but you may have to experiment a little.

For fats and oils used for baking cakes and muffins, you can often substitute them with apple puree. For cookies, aim to replace about ½ the oil with puree. You can even aim for a more substantial impact by using highly nutritious sweet potato puree as a fat and oil substitute.

If a recipe calls for saturated fats like butter or even lard, replace it with vegetable or olive oil. Of course, this won’t always work in recipes that call for creaming of butter. In those cases, you might try margarine or simply reduce the amount of butter.

In baking, you can usually replace 1 egg with 2 egg yolks for the same desired result, but with less cholesterol.

Try replacing at least half the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat. Many recipes will work with a complete replacement, so experiment a little. Your health is at stake.

Many sweet recipes are sweeter than they need to be. Don’t be shy about reducing the sugars. Do this where sweeteners are often added after cooking. For example, there is no reason pancake or waffle batter needs a lot of sugar when syrup, fruit and other sweet items are added afterward.

To salt or not to salt? In savory foods, salt is usually not necessary. For baked goods, while many may say otherwise, it’s not always necessary either. One exception is baked goods using yeast. Salt slows down the rising process and produces better texture, so it is likely necessary, but you can try reducing the amount of salt used.

Try lower fat dairy products in your recipes. Instead of heavy cream, use half and half. Instead of whole or 2% milk, try to skim. The same goes for sour cream, yogurt, and cheeses. Just make sure to read the label for quality ingredients as lower quality products tend to add undesirable ingredients and chemicals to make their low-fat varieties more palatable.

Overall, it’s important to try things out. The more you rework recipes and learn from your successes and even the failures, the easier it becomes to modify recipes on the fly.

You can find below one of my favorite recipe based on oatmeal and fruits:

Oatmeal and Fruit Salad

This is a great recipe for when it’s just too hot to cook. If you are taking this dish to a potluck dinner, wait until you arrive to add the fresh fruit. It will not have to be heated or refrigerated.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups instant oats – prepared
  • 1/2 cup sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup sliced peaches
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced bananas
  • 1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons of toasted almonds or pomegranate

Preparation:
Mix sliced fruit in a bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice. Add oats and mix.

In a separate bowl, combine the orange juice with the yogurt. Add the yogurt mixture to the fruit salad. Add extra almonds and berries (or chocolate-my version:) ) and toss gently.

Enjoy!

Don’t forget,

  make it simple, but delicious…and spare the extra time for you and your loved ones

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With love and respect,

Tunde