“Home-cooked” and “clean eating” were two health buzz words that gained popularity in 2020 as many people cooked at home instead of eating out and focused on nutritious foods during the pandemic. Those two trends also promote heart health, good news for anyone managing chronic heart disease. For even better heart health in 2021, mix up home-cooked meals and explore a wider variety of foods by trying these five nutritional powerhouses.
Cauliflower is having a moment because it’s a flexible, easy to prepare carb replacement with real health benefits. A low-calorie vegetable full of fiber, cauliflower also contains the compound choline which supports metabolism, brain health, and muscle health. Try it roasted, riced, in salads, as a pizza crust – even as a grilled “cauliflower steak.” Just hold the cheese sauce that might have topped your cauliflower back in the day. 1
The fruit stars of the winter months – citrus fruits – are excellent sources of vitamins that are important for heart health including vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Citrus also contains soluble fiber, flavonoids, and other nutrients which all improve heart health. Chances are your grocery store is stocked with citrus varieties that go far beyond the oranges and grapefruits you grew up with. Look for easy-to-peel tangerines, blood oranges, pomelos, and yuzu, a combination of mandarin orange and grapefruit. Enjoy citrus fruits fresh and whole because bottled citrus juices tend to be high in sugar. 2
Garbanzo beans or chickpeas, whatever you call them, these little legumes are packed with protein and fiber. They’re also full of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals including potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium. With their nutty, savory flavor, chickpeas are very versatile which is why you’ll find them in many forms: canned; dried into crunchy snacks; milled into flours, pasta, and cereals; and, of course, blended into hummus. Be sure to read the labels and check the sodium level on your chickpea of choice. 3
Long a heart-smart food, oats are showing up on the breakfast table in new forms. Oat milk has gained popularity as a milk alternative because it’s dairy-free, contains protein and fiber, and is usually fortified with Vitamin D and calcium. Opt for unsweetened oat milk to keep your sugar levels in check. And “overnight oats,” soaked steel-cut or old-fashioned oats, are giving traditional breakfast cereals a run for their money. Mix the oats with your favorite milk and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, top the oats with fresh fruit and nuts for a fiber-rich, satisfying breakfast that helps lower your cholesterol. 4
Tiny but mighty, seeds vary in their nutrition, but most are excellent heart-healthy choices. Chia seeds, found raw and mixed into cereals and puddings, contain protein, healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and fiber. Flaxseeds have a similar nutritional profile and are excellent sprinkled on salads, cereals, yogurt, and casseroles.5 Snackable pumpkin seeds (or “pepitas”) contain fiber, protein, and phytosterols which can help reduce cholesterol. 6
There are so many ways to enjoy flavorful meals while still eating heart smart. Mom’s Meals gives you delicious alternatives with nutritionally tailored meals including many heart-friendly choices. Check out the menus.