Nutrition is extremely important to your life, and it plays a big role in helping protect your heart. If you cook your own meals, you need to check out these heart-healthy meal ideas—not only are they delicious, but they’re good for you as well!
Heart-Healthy Meal Ideas—Breakfast
Southwest Tofu Scramble
Instead of scrambled eggs, why don’t you try this southwest tofu scramble recipe? Tofu contains soy isoflavines, which have been found to help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, thus helping decrease the risk of high blood pressure. A study also pointed out that daily consumption of soy can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. This recipe also calls for red pepper and kale, which both support heart health as they contain a high amount of potassium, which is essential to heart health as it helps lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your heart beat regulated. This is an important note as the median potassium intake among Canadians aged 19 and older is lower than the recommended intake of 4700 mg/day.
Another great option—in case you don’t have time in the morning to prepare breakfast from scratch—is to make overnight oats. There are many different ways to make overnight oats, but if you want yours to contain healthy ingredients, you can add chia seeds and fruits. A study showed that chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure—a strong risk factor for heart disease. You can also add healthy fats (monounsaturated fats) like peanut butter or almond butter to make your oats taste richer and creamier. Monounsaturated fats have been proved to lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Heart-Healthy Meal Ideas—Lunch
Sweet Potato, Arugula and Wild Rice Salad
This sweet potato, arugula and wild rice salad is easy to make and really suitable for those pressed for time. The recipe calls for arugula and sweet potato, which are both high in fibre, vitamins and potassium. Fibre can help you improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity. What makes this recipe more appealing is its versatility. You can always choose to have kale instead of arugula as the base if you don’t like the taste of arugula, or choose any other whole-grain options such as farro or wheat berries instead of wild rice. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains such as white rice is also recommended, as refined gains are often stripped off of B vitamins, iron, and fibre, thus contain fewer healthy nutrients for your heart.
Spicy Salmon and Black Bean Salad
If you’re a fan of salmon—which is well-known for being a heart-healthy food—try this spicy salmon black bean salad recipe. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, potassium and B vitamins, all of which are essential to heart health. EPA and DHA have been proved to help lower blood pressure. A study also found that vitamin B6 and B9 can lower the risk of heart failure in men and the risk from death of stroke and heart disease in women. This salad is also high in proteins, which makes it perfect to have after a workout session.
Heart-Healthy Meal Ideas—Dinner
Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Skillet
This chicken broccoli quinoa skillet recipe is perfect for dinner! It’s full of heart-healthy ingredients: chicken, broccoli and quinoa. Chicken is a great source of protein for meat eaters, especially when studies have suggested that red meat can raise heart disease risks. Broccoli, high in fibre, vitamins and potassium, is a great aid to heart health as it helps keep the blood vessels strong and lower cholesterol. Quinoa is also helpful in protecting the heart as it’s rich in fibre and magnesium, especially when magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmias. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, feel free to switch chicken with other plant-based protein sources such as black beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas.
Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Soup
Or you can try this butternut squash sweet potato soup recipe instead, especially when it’s winter time and you’re in the mood for a warm meal to take the chills away. Butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot and red bell pepper are all high in potassium, fibre and carotenoids, whose inflammatory properties have been associated with improving cardiovascular health. Make sure you switch butter with other healthy fat sources instead, such as olive oil or canola oil.
Heart-Healthy Meal Ideas—Snacks
Fruits should be an important part of your daily meals. Fruits are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and a lot of research has consistently shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of many serious diseases—heart disease included.
Eating two to five servings (one serving is approximately 80 grams) of whole, fresh heart-healthy fruits every day, such as apples, bananas, papaya, cantaloupes, and grapefruits, can help lower your risk of getting heart disease.
Dark chocolate is renowned for its health benefits, especially its heart-healthy properties. Dark chocolate contains flanovoids, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. In order to maximize the benefits of eating dark chocolate, make sure you’re snacking on chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.