By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Looking for ideas for heart healthy meal plans and heart healthy snacks? Learn how to eat to improve heart health in just a few easy steps.
If you want to improve heart health, you're in luck because I'm about to share a heart-healthy diet menu. These heart recipes contain a surprise ingredient, canola oil. Is canola oil good for you? Absolutely!
Looking for ways to help your ticker during American Heart Month? Use these tips to add a heart-healthy boost to your meals and snacks! Below, you'll find heart-healthy meals, snack ideas for healthy eating, and more.
Thanks to the folks at the CanolaInfo for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Eat to Improve Heart Health
February is American Heart Month, a time to embrace lifestyle changes that help keep our tickers healthy.
Heart disease runs in my family—both of my grandfathers passed away from a heart attack, and two of my uncles have had heart attacks—so the topic of how to eat for a healthy heart is very personal to me.
Tips for Heart-Healthy Meal Plans
This month, why not make easy changes to improve heart health and the heart health of your loved ones, too? One of the easiest ways to do so has to do with the food you eat—and here are a few of my favorite heart-healthy tips:
Eat a Variety of Healthy Foods
This includes fruits, veggies, whole grains (like brown rice and oats), low-fat dairy, lean poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and healthy oils (like canola oil). Eating a variety, especially of fruits and veggies, may help you have a healthy heart—and a healthier heart may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Cut Back on Saturated Fat
You can do this by choosing lean cuts of meat, eating reduced-fat dairy, and baking, broiling, or grilling instead of frying. Also limit intake of red meat. Keeping saturated fat in check may help lower cholesterol levels.
Avoid Trans Fats at All Costs
These fats raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. They’re added to some packaged foods, so read ingredient labels to keep foods with partially hydrogenated oils out of your shopping cart.
Avoiding trans fats is one of the top things you can do to lower your risk factors for heart disease.
Canola Oil for Heart Health
In fact, canola oil has the lowest saturated fat and the most plant-based omega 3s of any common cooking oil! Plus, canola oil is a great vehicle to deliver other healthy foods to the table, such as veggies and lean proteins. Curious about other top vegetarian sources of omega-3s?
In addition to canola oil, other heart-healthy foods include peanut butter, olive oil, and dark chocolate.
Looking for inspiration for cooking with canola oil? Here are a few of my favorite recipes, which work great for heart-healthy meal plans.
Heart-Healthy Recipe: Crispy Chickpeas and Pumpkin Seeds with Lime
These crunchy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds are so delicious! They’re tossed with canola oil and a mixture of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and lime zest. Snack on them, or add them as a crunchy topping to a salad in lieu of croutons.
Try the recipe: Crispy Chickpeas and Pumpkin Seeds with Lime
Heart-Healthy Recipe: Cucumber and Black Bean Salsa Salad
Looking for a quick-prep, delish salad? This one features protein-packed black beans, along with veggies and cilantro. It’s tossed with a mixture of canola oil, cider vinegar, and lime juice, and lime zest.
Try the recipe: Cucumber and Black Bean Salsa Salad
Heart-Healthy Recipe: Chunky Chicken Vegetable and Rosemary Stew
This one-pot meal provides multiple servings and offers a bounty of veggies (sautéed in canola oil!), along with fueling navy beans and chicken breast. If you’re vegetarian like me, you can swap the chicken for a plant-based protein, such as seitan. Looking for even more heart-healthy snacks and recipes to help improve heart health?
Try the recipe: Chunky Chicken Vegetable and Rosemary Stew
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I'd love to hear from you! What are the highest-rated probiotic supplements that are already part of your routine? How do you eat to improve heart healthy? What's your favorite heart-healthy lunch recipe?
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