The American Heart Association statistics indicate that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Looking closer, 1 in 4 deaths each year is caused by heart disease.
While all of this may sound frightening, there are things we can do to try to prevent cardiovascular issues. Healthy diet and lifestyle are major factors in reducing the risk of heart disease, or in avoiding further complications for those who already have it.
Considering that it’s American Heart Month, I wanted to share some heart-healthy recipes to make it easier to eat better. “Oh, great,” you say, “more bland, boring dishes!” Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve even included a desert recipe!
Most of the recipes below came from heart attack survivors or from affected family members who wanted to make some of their favorites healthier. I hope you enjoy these tasty recipes!
Ultimate Healthy Banana Bread
Good news! Bananas are good for your heart. They are a great source of potassium, “a mineral electrolyte that keeps electricity flowing throughout your body, which is required to keep your heart beating,” reports LiveScience.com. In addition, their high potassium and low sodium content may provide protection for your heart against high blood pressure, according to the FDA. Bananas are also rich in pectin, vitamin B6 and tryptophan.
On her “what would cathy eat?” blog, Cathy shares incredibly delicious recipes for heart-healthy options that are far from boring. After having had a blocked artery detected at the age of 44, she told off dietitians who recommended broiled chicken breast and steamed broccoli as her new typical dinner. Cathy’s mission was to find her way around “restrictions” and create hearty, spicy, flavorful, exciting food that was heart healthy.
She makes her Ultimate Healthy Banana Bread with nonfat yogurt, coconut sugar and whole wheat pastry flour. One commenter was “very impressed with the texture and moistness” of the bread, while another stated, “The yogurt is a stroke of genius.” Indeed! For those watching calories or carbohydrates, the coconut sugar could be substituted for stevia powder too. Stevia is highly concentrated so very little is needed compared to other sweeteners and it is zero calorie, zero carbohhydrates and not artificial. Check out Cathy’s recipe here.
Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes, Almonds & Basil
Cathy also shares her Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes, Almonds and Basil recipe, which looks amazing. Whether or not you’re into “zoodles,” it’s a great way to cut the carbs and calories.
Zucchini also is rich in vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. This summer squash doesn’t contain saturated fats or cholesterol. According to whfoods.com, “Several preliminary animal studies show potential anti-inflammatory protection from summer squash for the cardiovascular system.”
Check out Cathy’s heart healthy zucchini noodle recipe here.
Potato, Carrot & Lentil Soup
Unprocessed potatoes have no cholesterol and very little sodium. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber and, you guessed it, potassium. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. They also contain potassium, vitamin K, folate, manganese and more. And, lentils are high in fiber, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, folate, which lowers homocysteine levels , and magnesium, which improves blood flow and oxygen in the body.
Priscilla Willis, the author and chief creative behind She’s Cookin’, has been interested in health and nutrition since her teens and holds a teaching certification in Family & Consumer Sciences.
Priscilla was also driven to develop great heart-healthy recipes due to her husband’s serious heart disease. Her Potato, Carrot & Lentil Soup is a satisfying, comforting soup recipe avoiding much of the butter, cheese and sour cream normally associated with potatoes.
As Priscilla describes, “It was love at first bite when I tasted how the natural sweetness of carrots and mild, subtly sweet red lentils imparted another layer of flavor and brightness, which distinguishes it from other potato soups.” It’s heart-healthy, vegan and gluten free. Find the recipe here.
Heart-Healthy Slow Cooker Chili
The consumption of tomatoes has long been linked to heart health, according to whfoods.com. They help lower total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol., as well as “help prevent unwanted clumping together of platelet cells in the blood — a factor that is especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.” Tomatoes are also rich in antioxidants.
Trish enjoys turning traditional home-cooked meals into delicious heart-healthy dishes, especially since heart disease runs in her family. Realizing that the risk of heart disease increases when family members have the illness, she knew she had to start her little ones off on the right track.
For example, Trish did a great job with the oh-so-versatile chili on her blog, “MomOnTimeout.” She mentions that simple changes like choosing extra lean meat, and low- or no-sodium veggies can make all the difference. Check out the recipe here. Enjoy!
Bonnie Stern’s Crazy Lasagna
We’ve already covered the benefits of tomatoes and zuchhini, so let’s look at eggplant. MedicalNewsToday.com reports, “The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in eggplants all support heart health.” Its skin is rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants.
As I was perusing the great information about women and heart disease on the “Heart Sisters” blog, I came across Carolyn’s posting for a heart-healthy lasagna. As a heart attack survivor, she had thought this hardy dish was a distant memory. As she explains, “… I think you’ll be amazed at how deceptively healthy — and easy — this casserole-style vegetarian version is.” It’s packed full of scrumptious veggies like eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers and onions, and is easily modifiable if you have other favorites. If your family members crave some comfort food, I think they’ll appreciate this heart-healthy spin on lasagna! Get the recipe here.
Mint-Cocolate Fudge Pie
And, with St. Patrick’s Day approaching … Katie, from “Chocolate-covered Katie,” a healthy dessert blog, shares her Mint-Chocolate Fudge Pie recipe. Who wants to skip dessert, right?
Tofu is a good source of iron, calcium and protein. According to Medical News Today.com, “Consuming tofu as an alternative to animal protein lowers levels of LDL cholesterol, which in turn decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.”
Personally, I am not a fan of tofu but wanted to include it as an option for those vegans who struggle with finding ways to get enough protein in their diet. Enjoy in limited amounts though since tofu is an endocrine disruptor!
This tofu-based recipe is easy to make and definitely hits the spot! Commenters rave about how amazing this not-so-naughty dessert tastes. It is also worth noting this recipe uses agave as a sweetener which is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. There are a wide variety of natural sweeteners available to try too which can reduce your calorie and carbohydrate intake in this and any other desert recipe.
If this is up your alley, you’ll find tons more recipes on Katie’s blog.
Chances are you know either a family member or relative of a friend who has a heart condition. Most times, it is a silent threat that goes unnoticed until symptoms appear. Don’t wait for that. Start eating healthier now! These recipes and others in our Recipe Roundup Series are a way to enjoy healthier cooking and eating.
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