If your heart could decide what’s for dinner tonight it would choose roasted salmon, a side of lentils, a simple green salad topped with a few walnuts, and a bit of dark chocolate for dessert. It’s a menu packed with heart-healthy superfoods that are also delicious and easy to prepare.
If you have hypertension or heart disease, consider “following your heart” and adding more foods to your diet that help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure. These eight foods are a great start. Enjoy them as “whole” or unprocessed as possible to get the most nutritional benefit. They’re best fresh and cooked simply.
1. Salmon – This delicious fish is a superfood superstar due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential healthy fats are an energy source that can only be found in foods and they have many health benefits for your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and immune system.
Enjoy: Try to eat at least two servings of “fatty” fish weekly. Salmon is a great choice as are mackerel, herring, and bluefin tuna. Keep the prep simple by baking or roasting the fish with lemon and veggies.
2. Walnuts – The perfect grab-and-go snack, walnuts contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E which helps keep the lining of your arteries healthy.
Enjoy: A small handful of dry-roasted or raw walnuts makes a good snack or crunchy topping for a salad. Be sure to manage your portions as walnuts are high in calories.
3. Legumes: Full of fiber that helps remove LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” kind of cholesterol) from the body, legumes also contain B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. The legume family includes all types of beans, as well as chickpeas, lentils, and black-eyed peas. They’re easy to use, versatile, and inexpensive heart-healthy options.
Enjoy: Add legumes to soup, chili, or salads. Canned beans are more convenient than dried, but they also contain more sodium which isn’t great for your heart. Before you cook with them, rinse canned legumes to reduce their salt content.
4. Tofu – This versatile, plant-based protein source made from soybeans is an excellent alternative to animal-based proteins. Tofu is packed with fiber, minerals including calcium and iron, and healthy polyunsaturated fats. It also contains isoflavones which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Enjoy: Tofu is a blank canvas in the kitchen because it can take on lots of flavor profiles and be cooked in many ways. Get creative!
5. Dark chocolate – Here’s great news for all the chocolate lovers out there: dark chocolate is indeed a healthy food, but only in moderation. Dark chocolate, with 70% cocoa or more, contains fiber, protein, and flavanols, a type of nutrient that has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Enjoy: Skip the milk chocolate and opt for dark chocolate. Savor a few pieces – not a whole bar -- because it’s high in calories and sugar.
6. Oatmeal – A classic heart-healthy food loved by generations of breakfast fans, oatmeal is loaded with fiber, so it keeps you full while also reducing LDL cholesterol.
Enjoy: Skip the sugar-laden flavored oatmeal packs and make your own using regular or steel-cut oats and the milk of your choice or water. You can also blend oats into smoothies.
7. Flax seeds – These tiny seeds pack a big punch with protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids that help reduce blood pressure and triglycerides.
Enjoy: Sprinkle flax seeds on your yogurt, mix them into your cereal, or grind them into a powder and add them to smoothies and baked goods.
8. Berries – Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries – their beautiful, bright colors hint at their health benefits. They’re full of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants which fight cell damage.
Enjoy: You can’t go wrong just enjoying these fruits fresh. A serving of berries – about one cup -makes a great snack. Mix them into smoothies, add them to yogurt, or create a spinach and berry salad.
Mom’s Meals® incorporates healthy, delicious ingredients into nutritionally balanced refrigerated meals delivered right to your home. If you’re concerned about high blood pressure or heart disease, choose the heart-friendly, medically tailored options from our expansive menu. Check out your choices.