A heart healthy diet is often misunderstood as being bland and restrictive. The truth, however, couldn’t be further from it. In this article, we seek to discover the many healthy and tasty foods that can form a part of your heart healthy diet, and to explore ideas for delicious recipes that can be beneficial for your heart.
What Is Included in a Heart Healthy Diet?
Also known informally as a cardiac diet, a heart healthy diet seeks to include foods that are good for your heart, while simultaneously eliminating foods that can be detrimental to your heart health. To better understand what a heart healthy diet entails, let’s look at the main elements in this meal plan.
Fruits and Vegetables
A heart healthy diet typically includes a ton of fruits and vegetables like apples, spinach, broccoli, avocadoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and asparagus. All fruits and vegetables are good for your heart, provided you eat them without deep-frying or seasoning them with too much salt or sugar.
It’s also important to remember to switch up your intake of fruits and vegetables frequently, so you don’t suffer from an excess of any specific vitamin or mineral.
Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Besides fruits and vegetables, a heart healthy diet also includes foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, walnuts, and flaxseed. Don’t let the name deceive you because these are good fats that have a ton of positive effects on your body. In fact, they can possibly reduce triglyceride levels, impede the deposit of plaque in the arteries, minimize the risk of arrhythmias, and prevent high blood pressure.
Foods That Provide Soluble Fiber
Fiber is often associated with better digestion. And while this is true, a lesser-known fact is that soluble fiber is also good for the heart. This is because consuming the required levels of soluble fiber can lower your cholesterol levels and keep your blood sugar levels normal. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oats, berries, legumes, and nuts. It’s advisable to eat at least 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber every day.
What Are Some Foods to Avoid on a Heart Healthy Diet?
Another important aspect of a cardiac diet is knowing what foods to avoid. This can help you reap the benefits of your diet with no dilution.
While a small amount of salt is essential for your health, eating too much salt can be bad for your heart. This is because consuming excess salt increases the sodium content in your diet, which raises the quantity of blood in your blood vessels. Your heart needs to work harder to keep the blood pumping. Interestingly, it’s not only salt high in sodium. Foods like sauces, cereal, and some condiments can also contain salt.
Sugar is also another element to reduce or avoid if you’re keen on following a heart healthy diet. White sugar increases the risk of heart disease. Foods like soft drinks, sweetened bread or yogurt, and even fruit juices can be high in sugar.
Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
Trans fats need to be entirely eliminated in a cardiac diet. These fats can raise the levels of blood cholesterol in your body, and they are best eaten minimally or not at all. Packaged foods typically contain trans fats. Saturated fats, which are found in pork, lamb, butter, and whole fat dairy, are also best avoided.
Tips for a Delicious Heart Healthy Diet
Now you know the basics of how to follow a heart healthy diet, let’s look at some tips that can help you eat foods that are healthy and also easy on your taste buds.
Eat the Rainbow
Well, we don’t mean that literally. What this phrase implies is that you need to stock up your plate with a ton of fresh fruits or vegetables, resulting in a colorful dish to dig into. It’s not only delicious but also visually and esthetically tempting. And as a bonus, it’s excellent for your heart.
Add More Herbs and Spices
Seasoning a recipe goes beyond salt and pepper. You can add spices and herbs like basil, bay leaves, coriander, celery, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, rosemary, or thyme to make your foods taste better. These spices and herbs also have several positive effects on your overall health.
Switch to Herbal Tea
While the effect of coffee on the heart is debatable, there’s no denying that tea is great for both heart health and overall immunity. Not only is herbal tea a rich source of antioxidants, but it also lower blood pressure and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol.
Opt for Dark Chocolate
While chocolates in general may be bad for the heart, you can make up for this sacrifice by sticking to a cube or two of rich, dark chocolate each day. Dark chocolate has more cocoa than other varieties, and cocoa contains flavonoids, which lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots.
Ideas for Tasty Heart Healthy Foods
Heart healthy diets don’t always have to be bland or uninspiring to eat. Here are great recipes that will not only help keep your heart, mind, and body fit but also satisfy your taste buds.
Butternut Squash and Turmeric Soup
Coming in at around 295 calories per serving, the butternut squash and turmeric soup is a light yet filling dish rich in flavors and antioxidants. To prepare this dish, start off by heating extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add chopped onions into the oven and cook for around six minutes. In the meantime, dissolve a vegetable bouillon base in six cups of boiling water and reserve.
Now, add cut butternut squash pieces, chopped carrots, turmeric, and pepper into the Dutch oven along with the broth. Cook the ingredients for around 20 minutes. Take the seeds of the butternut squash and season them with some olive oil, some turmeric, and some pepper, and roast it all in the oven at around 375 degrees Fahrenheit for around 10 minutes. Puree all the ingredients in the Dutch oven, and sprinkle the soup with the roasted seeds and some light coconut milk.
Link to Recipe
Spaghetti with Grilled Green Beans and Mushrooms
With a prep time of just 20 minutes, this recipe is one of the easiest to prepare. Start off by cooking whole wheat spaghetti under the instructions on the package, and reserve. Add trimmed mushrooms, green beans, and scallions in a bowl and season with olive oil, crushed red pepper, and some salt. Grill the vegetables over medium-heat for around five minutes till they become slightly tender.
Once the vegetables are done, cut them up and put them back in the bowl. Add either pressed garlic or finely chopped garlic into the bowl along with finely grated lemon zests. Now, cut the two lemons into equal halves and grill them till they’re slightly charred. Add the cooked spaghetti into the bowl along with the juice of the lemons and mix well.
Link to Recipe
This potsticker stir-fry recipe requires almost no prep time and can be whipped up in a matter of just 30 minutes. To prepare this quick and sumptuous dish, start by heating some canola oil in a skillet. Add the frozen vegetable potstickers and cook till they turn slightly brown, which should take about five minutes. Now, infuse a bit of water, cover and cook till the water fully evaporates, and then transfer to a plate.
Meanwhile, mix soy sauce and honey, and reserve. Heat canola oil in the skillet and add sliced scallions and chili, chopped garlic, and grated ginger. Cook for around a minute and add sugar snap peas, chopped carrots, and sliced yellow peppers. Then, cook for another two minutes, add the reserved soy sauce and honey mixture into the skillet along with the potstickers, and toss to mix thoroughly.
Link to Recipe
Shrimp Bowl with Scallion Vinaigrette
With quinoa as one of the main ingredients, this recipe ranks high regarding being heart healthy. To prepare this dish, begin by cooking quinoa in a medium-sized saucepan for around five minutes till it becomes slightly roasted. Then, add a few cups of water, and cover and cook for around 10 minutes.
In the meantime, take a rimmed baking sheet pan and toss broccoli seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the broccoli in an oven for around 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Add shrimp seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper, toss along with broccoli, and roast for another eight minutes in the oven.
Mix rice vinegar, grated ginger, and some olive oil in a bowl and add tomatoes and scallions. Top the cooked quinoa with shrimp, broccoli, and avocado. Pour the tomato scallion vinaigrette over the mixture and serve.
Link to Recipe
Cod with Crispy Green Beans
Begin by tossing green beans coated with extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan, salt, and pepper, onto a large rimmed baking sheet pan. Roast the beans in the oven for around 12 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a large skillet and heat extra-virgin olive oil and cook the cod seasoned with salt and pepper until it turns golden-brown. Transfer the cod and the beans onto a plate and gently spread the pesto on the cod and serve.
Link to Recipe
That just about covers the essentials of how to follow a heart healthy diet without compromising on the palatability of your meal plan., having a set of tasty recipes handy can motivate you to eat better and to stick to your cardiac diet. And in the long run, it can improve the health of your heart and keep it fit even as you age.© Incomestorage