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Healthy Eating

Here you will find tons of information about healthy eating and incorporating the principles of healthy nutrition into your daily life. Built around Dr. Cederquist’s nutritional foundation for healthy weight loss, these articles place a wealth of information right at your fingertips.

How to Make 10 Heart-Healthy Meals

From a hearty bowl of overnight oats to black bean tacos, find out how to make your heart healthy and satisfy the taste buds for all times of the day!

How to Make 10 Heart-Healthy Meals

Wanting to know how to make your heart healthy? It starts in the kitchen!

But not only can you pump out heart-healthy recipes with four simple steps, but ensure your taste buds are also satisfied with nutritious and delicious ingredients!

How to Make Heart-Healthy Meals

A heart-healthy diet is essentially one composed of whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources.

Below details how to make your heart healthy in the kitchen, particularly with considerations with fiber, fat, and salt intake.

1. Load Up On Produce

Fruits and vegetables are key for a healthy heart and body, as they burst with heart-healthy nutrients while being naturally low in calorie.

Fruits and veggies are rich in dietary fiber, a non-digestible plant component proven to reduce cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. Some varieties are also natural sources of the nutrients potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which benefit heart health.

The inclusion of fruit also grants heart-healthy nutrients while helping to satisfy that sweet tooth, which is an extremely valuable considering the link between high-sugar diets and cholesterol.

Include at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily and comprise half the meal plate with non-starchy veggies. Also choose more fruit and vegetable varieties in their whole form. For instance, fruit juices lack fiber while fried and sautéed veggies may contain trans or other unnecessary fats.

2. Choose Fats Wisely

Unlike popular belief, eating for the heart (and general health) does not dismiss dietary fat. In fact, the body needs fat to maintain cell structure and integrity, offer insulation, assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and other valuable physiological processes.

But too much and the wrong type of fat may cause weight gain and the risk of health conditions, including heart disease. Nutrition experts encourage swapping out saturated and trans fats with healthier fat sources, including monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy fat sources include fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive and canola oils. Also go for leaner cuts of meats, including skinless chicken, turkey, and sirloin.

3. Add Whole Grains

For a complete heart-healthy meal, add whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat pastas and breads. Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grains and associated products supply more fiber and contain valuable B vitamins shown to improve both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Whole grains should comprise at least 50 percent of total grain consumption and accompany produce, protein, and healthy fats on a balanced, heart-healthy meal plate.

4. Season for the Heart

Whereas sodium is a valuable mineral and electrolyte for regulating fluid balance within the body, too much of it can increase blood pressure. And with heart disease being the number one killer in the U.S., there is a need to go easy on the salt.

A successful heart-healthy and hypertension diet limits sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams (mg) daily or 1,500 mg, particularly if directed by a medical provider. To moderate sodium intake, go easy on the salt shaker, limit processed and packaged foods, and opt for more wholesome foods.

Also simultaneously reduce salt intake and enrich the flavor of your foods by spicing it up in the kitchen with the use of fresh or dried herbs and seasonings.

10 Heart-Healthy Meals and Recipes

From a hearty bowl of overnight oats to black bean tacos, make your heart healthy and satisfy the taste buds for all times of the day with these 10 meals and recipes. 

1. Overnight Oats

Oats might be small, but oh are they mighty with fiber, plant-based protein, iron, B vitamins, and other nutrients to support heart and overall health.

Begin the day with these overnight oat recipes, loaded with slow-releasing carbs and fiber sure to fuel your morning.

2. Breakfast Burritos

Eggs naturally offer healthy fat and protein, while also are complementary to veggies to boost extra nutrients in the morning.

To make a heart-healthy, on-the-go breakfast, sauté spinach, bell pepper, tomato, and other desired veggies in a skillet over medium heat. Crack open and scramble 2 eggs into the veggies, transfer egg mixture to a whole grain tortilla, wrap up tightly, and head out the door to tackle the day ahead!

3. Chia Seed Pudding

Mixing up a batch of this vanilla chia seed pudding power packs your morning, as chia seeds boast fiber and omega-3 fatty acids shown to support heart health.

Chia seeds have also shown to reduce C-reactive protein, a major marker of heart disease risk.

4. Tuna Salad

With just a few tweaks and tricks, transform mayo-based tuna salad into a heart-healthy recipe.

Simply mix a 5-ounce can of wild albacore tuna with a small avocado, diced celery, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Accompany with a high-fiber source, including whole grain crackers, sliced cucumbers, and carrot sticks, for a convenient lunch or snack.

5. Chickpea Salad

For a plant-based lunch option, look no further than this chickpea salad.

While it can stand alone as a meal option, also feel free to downsize and pair with soup or serve as a side dish for your next summer grill out.

6. Black Bean Tacos

Like chickpeas, beans are another protein-rich, meatless alternative to savor.

For your next Taco Tuesday, lightly mash and mix black beans with garlic powder, cumin, sautéed peppers and onions. Add the bean mixture to a whole grain tortilla and top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, salsa, avocado, and shredded lettuce.

7. Beef Stir-Fry

Rather than calling in for takeout, prepare beef stir-fry from the comfort of your own for a heart-healthy meal option.

Simply cook grassfed beef (more omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients!) to desired doneness, top onto a half cup of brown rice, and complement with roasted broccoli, carrots, onions, bell peppers, and other Asian-inspired flavors. Feel free to swap out beef with a pan-seared salmon fillet and/or soybeans.

8. Cranberry Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast

From fiber from apples to omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, this cardiac diet recipe is stuffed with heart-healthy nutrients.

Pair with a fresh green beans, quinoa, or a sweet potato for a complete balanced meal.

9. Baked Tilapia with Tomato Caper Sauce

Baking is an essential cooking preparation method for heart-healthy diet meals, as it dismisses heavy oils from meals. But this baked tilapia recipe not only rids unhealthy oils, but boasts in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

And to mention, the mild flavor of tilapia is perfectly complemented by the natural, tangy hints of garlic, olives, capers and onions in the zesty tomato caper sauce!

10. Blackened Salmon

Like tilapia, salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and make this bistroMD recipe good for the heart.

The salmon is paired with a stew okra, completely devoid of any salt but ample in flavor thanks to the use of onion, garlic, basil, oregano, mustard, cayenne pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.

Christy Zagarella's Photo
Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 29, 2019.


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