Monday, February 04, 2008

February is Heart Month


Besides being Black History month, National Bird Feeding month and Spunky Old Broad month (I swear I don’t make this stuff up), February is American Heart month. So I am dedicating this post to heart healthy foods.

According to WebMD, the top 25 heart healthy foods are (including some suggestions for each):


  1. Salmon Omega-3 fatty acids. Grill salmon with a yummy rub or marinade. Save a chunk to chop for a pasta or salad later on.
  2. Flaxseed (ground) Omega-3 fatty acids; fiber, phytoestrogens. Ground flaxseed hides easily in all sorts of foods -- yogurt parfaits, morning cereal, homemade muffins, or cookies.
  3. Oatmeal Omega-3 fatty acids; magnesium; potassium; folate; niacin; calcium; soluble fiber. Top hot oatmeal with fresh berries. Oatmeal-and-raisin cookies are a hearty treat.
  4. Black or Kidney Beans B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber. Give soup or salad a nutrient boost -- stir in some beans.
  5. Almonds Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols. Mix a few almonds (and berries) into low-fat yogurt, trail mix, or fruit salads.
  6. Walnuts Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols. Walnuts add flavorful crunch to salads, pastas, cookies, muffins, even pancakes.
  7. Red wine Catechins and reservatrol (flavonoids). Toast your good health! A glass of red wine could improve "good" HDL cholesterol.
  8. Tuna Omega-3 fatty acids; folate; niacin. Here's lunch: Salad greens, fresh fruit, canned tuna. Keep "Salad Spritzer" a light dressing -- in your office fridge.
  9. 9. Tofu Niacin; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium. Tasty tofu is easy: Thinly slice "firm" tofu, marinate several hours, grill or stir-fry.
  10. 10. Brown rice B-complex vitamins; fiber; niacin; magnesium, fiber. Microwavable brown rice makes a quick lunch. Stir in a few chopped veggies (broccoli, carrots, spinach).
  11. Soy milk Isoflavones (a flavonoid); B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate, calcium; magnesium; potassium; phytoestrogens. Soy milk is great over oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. Or, make a smoothie with soy milk.
  12. Blueberries Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber. Cranberries, strawberries, raspberries are potent, too -- for trail mixes, muffins, salads!
  13. Carrots Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid); fiber. Baby carrots are sweet for lunch. Sneak shredded carrots into spaghetti sauce or muffin batter.
  14. Spinach Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber. Pick spinach (not lettuce) for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches.
  15. Broccoli Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber. Chop fresh broccoli into store-bought soup. For a veggie dip, try hummus (chickpeas).
  16. Sweet potato Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); vitamins A, C, E; fiber. Microwave in a zip-lock baggie for lunch. Eat au naturale, or with pineapple bits.
  17. Red bell peppers Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber. Rub with olive oil, and grill or oven-roast until tender. Delicious in wraps, salads, sandwiches.
  18. Asparagus Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber. Grill or steam slightly, then dress with olive oil and lemon. It's a pretty side dish.
  19. Oranges Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber. Got orange juice? Check out the new nutrient-packed blends.
  20. Tomatoes Beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber. For a flavor twist, try oil-packed tomatoes in sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas.
  21. Acorn squash Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium; fiber. Baked squash is comfort food on a chilly day. Serve with sauted spinach, pine nuts, raisins.
  22. Cantaloupe Alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber. A fragrant ripe cantaloupe is perfect for breakfast, lunch, potluck dinners. Simply cut and enjoy!
  23. Papaya Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein (carotenoids); Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium. Serve papaya salsa with salmon: Mix papaya, pineapple, scallions, garlic, fresh lime juice, salt and black pepper.
  24. Dark chocolate Reservatrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids). A truffle a day lowers blood pressure, but choose 70% or higher cocoa content.
  25. 25. Tea Catechins and flavonols (flavonoids). Make sun tea: Combine a clear glass jar, several tea bags, and hours of sunshine.




Some more tips to incorporate these into your day:

  • Substitute one cup of tea for one cup of coffee several times a week
  • Eat a small handful of almonds as a mid-afternoon snack. You only need 1 ounce, which is roughly 20 – 25 almonds, and you will be surprised how filling these protein rich foods can be.
  • Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed sweet potatoes. I like them mashed plain, but you can add brown sugar or horseradish to them to give them a little added flavor. Because they are so moist, you do not need to add the cream and butter like with traditional potatoes.
  • Make a salad using spinach leaves instead of your standard lettuce leaves, or do a half and half blend if you don’t like spinach along. Add some fruits (orange segments, papaya chunks, blueberries), some halved baby carrots or red pepper strips, sprinkle with some almonds or walnuts and if you are feeling especially heart-healthy, top it off with a piece of grilled salmon or tuna. Voila you have a great lunch or dinner.

2 comments:

Gayle said...

I am the originator of Spunky Old Broad month and was delighted to see your healthy foods. I am in the processing of just finishing a CD series on "The Healthy You." If you think you have something to contribute, I'd love to include some recipes etc in the workbook that will accompany the program. Let me know.

Chef Jen said...

Gayle, I would love to hear more about what you are doing. Please send me an email so we may discuss further (jen@PrestoChef.com).

Thanks!