6 Foods for Better Heart Health
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6 Foods for Better Heart Health

A heart-healthy dish for every meal.

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By Patrick Sullivan

The American Heart Association says, “A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.” That means fiber, whole grains, vegetables and fish are in, and saturated and trans fats, sugar and white grains are out. Some of longest-lived people in the world—who live in places known as Blue Zones—eat plant-based diets, supplemented with regular fish, and avoid dairy and sugar.

Check out these heart-healthy Blue Zones recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Lightly spiced carrot muffins

2 / 8 Lightly spiced carrot muffins

Muffins are a delicious way to start your day, but they’re often loaded with fat and sugar. Not these spiced carrot muffins. Whole-wheat flour and cereal adds heart-healthy fiber, while soy flour will give you a dose of protective omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and plenty of protein. Plus, carrots are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may help older adults improve physical performance.

Mason jar salads

3 / 8 Mason jar salads

Vegetables should be a staple of every diet. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and they’re low-calorie, making them good for your waistline and your heart. But eating the same salad every day can be boring and no one wants to eat a soggy salad that’s been sitting in lunchbox all day. These mason jar salads are the answer. Layer dressing, then hard veggies, soft veggies, proteins and toppers to avoid a soggy mess. Mix and match ingredients throughout the week and you’ll never be bored with your salad again.

Savory roasted chickpeas

4 / 8 Savory roasted chickpeas

If you’re feeling hungry between meals, skip the potato chips and try roasted chickpeas. You only need six ingredients and 45 minutes to prepare these savory roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas are a great source of protein, especially for those on a plant-based diet, and just one cup can give you half of your recommended daily intake of heart-healthy fiber.

Split pea guacamole

5 / 8 Split pea guacamole

You might be surprised to learn that guacamole can be a heart-healthy snack, considering how high in fat avocados are—but not all fats are created equal. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, which can help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). This take on the classic dip includes split peas, which are high in protein and dietary fiber. Combine all ingredients and you have a delicious appetizer that will keep you full and may prevent overeating during the main course.

Spinach and cranberry stuffed salmon

6 / 8 Spinach and cranberry stuffed salmon

Salmon is a heart health all-star. It’s a good source of protein, low in saturated fat, and chock full of omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, unlike other fatty fish such as some types of tuna and mackerel, there’s low risk of mercury. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week, and Blue Zones notes that long-lived people frequently eat fish. This dish jazzes up the classic salmon filet by stuffing it with spinach, basil, dried cranberries and nuts.

Lemon and dill bean salad

7 / 8 Lemon and dill bean salad

Utilize side dishes to provide nutrients your main course may be lacking. The heaping helping of beans in this quick and easy salad can add protein and fiber to your dinner, and optional add-ins like avocado, walnuts, leafy greens and blueberries can up the healthy fats or antioxidants.

Vanilla cherry nice cream

8 / 8 Vanilla cherry nice cream

Ice cream is an after-dinner mainstay, but all the sugar and saturated fat isn’t doing your heart or your waistline any favors. Try this “nice cream” substitution. It’s made with a base of bananas, a fruit that’s high in potassium. Potassium helps mitigate the effects of sodium, which is a culprit in high blood pressure. The cherries provide a little more sweetness and some antioxidants to combat damage to your cells.