There’s a myth that unhealthy foods are delicious, and healthy foods are bland, boring, and ruin your eating enjoyment. But when you think about what you gain from a healthy heart diet, the transition from “living to eat” to “eating to live” is a bit easier – and tasty!
When it comes to heart-healthy foods, look for whole foods (not processed), and colorful (not beige).
Whole foods are foods in their natural, unprocessed state. For example, a simple banana is a whole food, but fried banana chips with salt and sugar are a processed food. Another thing to remember is to keep your meals colorful. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids and antioxidants, which are good for your heart. If you’re cooking for your whole family, teaching them to enjoy healthy meals helps your kids avoid heart problems down the road.
As you read this list of heart healthy foods, don’t be surprised if you get hungry!
Wild Caught Salmon
As fish goes, salmon does have more calories and higher fat content than, say, tilapia. But salmon is rich in omega-3s, which your heart needs. Wild caught salmon are preferred over farm raised because the wild type has almost a third less calories, plus some farms use antibiotics due to high density conditions.
When you shop for bread or cereal, look for those made with whole grains because it retains far more of the grain’s nutrients. And broaden your horizons beyond just wheat and oats; try products made with spelt, quinoa, and flax which are often neglected but highly nutritious.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Skip the bland iceberg lettuce and grab some hearty kale, spinach, collard greens, or Swiss chard. These darker choices bring much more flavor to your salad or sandwich, and they’re packed with nutrients.
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, and pecans are packed with protein and omega-3s. There’s no need to buy the salted kind, because these choices are full of flavor for a healthy snack, or sprinkled over your yogurt, oatmeal, salad, or cereal. As for your cereal, try using almond milk which has no cholesterol or saturated fats. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are also satisfying snacks which are much more nutritious than a bag of chips.
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are nature’s delicious treats. Plus, they deliver antioxidants and other nutrients. Sprinkle some on your cereal or salad, or eat ‘em right off the vine.
You don’t have to drown your broccoli in hollandaise sauce to make it tasty. A squeeze of lemon with a dash of salt & pepper is all it takes. Broccoli is high in fiber, low in cholesterol, and full of antioxidants.
Almond milk is gaining popularity. It’s a heart healthy choice because it has no cholesterol or saturated fats. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids so it may help lower your bad cholesterol, and it has fewer calories than cow’s milk. The main drawback is its low protein content, so be sure to get your protein elsewhere … how about quinoa?
Some people call this “butter fruit” because of its rich, creamy texture. They’re delicious on salads and sandwiches. Even though they high in fat, it’s the good kind of fat. They’re also rather high in calories, so eat them in moderation.
Reducing your intake of red meat can help, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate it completely. Even though it costs a bit more than corn-fed or grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is a good option because it delivers lots of protein and iron, but less fat and cholesterol. You’ll also love the hearty flavor.
You can choose pintos, garbanzos, lentils, chickpeas, and lots more varieties. Beans are a great source of protein and make a great side dish to almost any meal.
Apples taste great – even if they’re not baked in a pie. Rinse before you eat, then eat the peel, too, because it’s loaded with antioxidants.
When you drink green tea, you deliver large amounts of antioxidants called polyphenols which help fight damaging free radicals. Green tea can be flavored with just a bit of mint, lemon, or honey, and you can drink it hot or cold. Plus, it’s also lower in caffeine compared to other teas and coffee.