Eat These Foods for a Healthy Heart

Eat These Foods for a Healthy Heart
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Your heart is one of the most important muscles you have. It pumps blood filled with oxygen and vital nutrients throughout your body, so it makes sense that to keep it healthy, you should eat a diet rich in nutrients.

The American Heart Association offers a handy-dandy guide to the various food groups: It shows how many servings of each group you should eat in a day for optimal heart health. What does it suggest? A variety of fruits and veggies; skinless fish and poultry (these are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids); low-fat dairy; healthy whole grains; legumes; and healthy fats.

And the not-so-recommended? Sugary drinks, sweets, fatty meats, processed foods, and other foods containing saturated fat. If the thought of trying to get all this good-for-you food into your daily diet overwhelms you, don’t stress. (It’s not good for your heart!) I’ve got you covered. Check out these ideas.

Get in Those Veggies

Breakfast scrambles and omelettes are incomplete without them! I always have chopped veggies on hand to whip up a quick scramble. Mushrooms, peppers, and onions are my favorites. When I’m in a rush, I cook up a veggie-filled scramble in the microwave. You can also sneak veggies into your smoothies. A little spinach may turn your drink green, but you won’t even taste it!

At lunchtime, a big salad is always a good idea. If that seems boring, learn to step up your salad game. When it comes to sides, swap out carb-heavy chips for cut-up carrots, celery, or jicama. With some tasty guacamole (more on that later) or hummus, veggies are the perfect dip-to-mouth vehicle!

At dinnertime, stir-frys are the ultimate way to get your veggies. Pick your favorite vegetables or take a shortcut and grab a bag from the freezer section of the supermarket. Mix with lean protein (like shrimp or chicken) and your favorite Asian-inspired sauce and you’ve got a meal.

Become a Fan of Fruit!

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, train it to crave fruit. There’s nothing like juicy sliced mango or chunks of sweet pineapple. If you’re always on the go, pick grab-n-go fruits like apples, clementines, or bananas.

At home, mix fruit into yogurt. Smoothies are perfect for breakfast as long as you're smart about what you throw into that blender and do it right. And when I’m feeling snacky in the evenings, I always go for fruit. A bowl of berries topped with natural whipped topping hits the spot every time.

Fruit and veggies go great together. Here's a great tip: Add peeled and chopped cucumber to fruit salad! You'll super-size your portion, and the cucumber blends right in.

Satisfy With Salmon

Salmon is a superstar because it's rich in omega-3 fatty-acids, the good fat you’re always hearing about. And not only is it tasty, it's also super simple to make. My favorite way to cook salmon is to bake it in a foil pack—minimal effort with hardly any cleanup, and the results are top notch!

Tip: Bake up two fillets at once; one for dinner and one for the next day's lunch salad. Also look for pouched/canned salmon products. (Tuna isn’t the only one in the game.)

Go Nuts for Nuts

Nuts are full of heart-healthy fats and proteins. However, those little guys pack in a lot of calories, so make them the cherry on top on your sundae, not the main event. I like to sprinkle crushed nuts on top of oatmeal, stir-fries, and salads. As a snack, reach for 100-calorie packs to keep those cals in check.

Bonus: Almonds have been shown to have a positive impact on weight loss. Being overweight can cause strain on your heart, so grab a portion-controlled pack of almonds today!

Oatmeal Is a Healthy Whole Grain

I'm obsessed with oatmeal. It's so satisfying, and it does a heart good. I use old-fashioned oats to make something I call “growing oatmeal.” By cooking them with twice the amount of liquid and for twice as long (compared to standard oatmeal), you get a tremendous portion!

It's easy to learn to make growing oatmeal. I also love overnight oats. Prep them the night before, and wake up to a ready-made breakfast. There are plenty of recipes for an overnight oats parfait with layers of fruit and yogurt!

Avoiding Avocado Is a No-No

Don't stay away from this delicious fruit. (Yes, technically it’s a fruit!) Creamy and delicious, it's full of those heart-healthy fats you want.

Avocado toast is all the rage, and for good reason! I make my own by toasting a piece of light whole-grain bread, spreading it with about 3 tablespoons of avocado, and then letting my imagination go wild with toppings.

I’ve been known to add corn, cheese, strawberries, and (gasp) even bacon! Avocado is also excellent mixed with fat-free Greek yogurt for a creamy guac dip for veggies. Keeping your heart healthy never tasted so good! (Bonus: It could be a weight-loss weapon!)

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