February is American Heart Month. Take a look at some nutritious foods that are heart-healthy and delicious.
To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, you need a fridge and pantry stocked with heart-healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, and fish or chicken are obvious places to begin, but use this guide when you go to the grocery store or farmers market.
Stock a Balanced Pantry
Well-stocked means having basic heart-healthy ingredients on hand at all times either in your cabinets, fridge or freezer. Having a properly stocked pantry can make preparing heart healthy delicious meals both easy and convenient. Keep these items on hand for unplanned but nutritious meals.
- Stock your pantry or cabinets with items like low-salt canned beans, salmon, tomatoes and marinara sauce to ensure a fast and nutritious dinner
- Include whole-grain pastas in a variety of shapes, brown rice and other easy-to-make whole grains like bulgur, couscous and quinoa
- Buy healthy cooking oils to have on hand.
- Have a variety of whole grains stocked to form the base of your meal: whole-grain pastas in various shapes, brown rice and other grains like quinoa, couscous and bulgur wheat. Old-fashioned rolled oats are great for a quick oatmeal breakfast. Choose breads and cereals that list whole grains as the first item in the ingredient list.
- For baking, whole-wheat flour or spelt flour can often be substituted in for white flour.
- Nuts and seeds are also great to have on hand for snacking as they are good sources of protein and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
- Balsamic vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce are great to have available for salad dressings and sauces. Low-sodium bouillon cubes make a quick, flavorful stock for soups but be sure to read the ingredients label to find products made without hydrogenated oils
- Dried herbs and spices can add instant flavor to your meals—think rosemary, oregano, thyme and curry powder. Fresh rosemary is a great addition to roasting poultry and vegetables.
Foods that Lower Blood Pressure
Instead of focusing on foods you should avoid (like salt) think about what foods can eat more of that naturally lower blood pressure. You’ll want to look for food filled with heart-protective fiber, vitamins, and the minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium. Try:
- Quinoa (use this versatile grain as you would rice)
- White beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin seeds
Tip: Try seasoning your food with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Try these 12 tips during your next shopping trip
- Buy fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Stock your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables
- Select more meat substitutes: beans, legumes or tofu
- Incorporate chia seeds or flaxseeds into baking
- Choose breads that are 100% whole grain
- Eat more whole grains (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, farro, oatmeal)
- Opt for a low-fat milk or non-dairy milk with no sugar added
- Use natural flavor boosters (citrus, spices and herbs)
- When buying meat select learner cuts
- Incorporate fish into diet twice a week
- Enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation
- Choose canola, olive, sesame, and sunflower oils
If you stock your kitchen with nutritious but flavorful whole foods, you are more likely to eat a heart healthy diet and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Visit the American Heart Association for more heart healthy tips.