Recipes

Top 4 Worst Foods For Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans: on average, one person dies every 39 seconds, according to recently published data from the American Heart Association. Along with healthy lifestyle choices, what you eat can have a big effect on your heart health. Here are 4 of the worst foods to eat for your heart, and the best to eat too.

—Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

 

Trans Fat

One of the easiest to limit (or avoid) in your diet—and it’s quite harmful to your heart health—trans fat. Why are trans fats so harmful? Like saturated fat, trans fat raises your “bad” LDL cholesterol, possibly even more than saturated fats, according to research. Trans fat also lowers your “good” HDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fat you eat daily to less than 1 percent of your total calories. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, that translates to about 2 (or fewer) grams.

How can you limit, or eliminate trans fat from your diet? The easiest way to avoid trans fat is by skipping foods that contain “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” in their ingredient lists. Big culprits include packaged snacks, crackers, bakery goods and some margarines. Read labels carefully: if a package claims “zero trans fat,” the amount per serving may be less than 0.5 g and could have been rounded down to zero, so the only way to be sure you’re getting a product without trans fat is to read ingredient lists.

Trans fats are also found naturally—albeit in small amounts—in animal products, such as beef, pork, lamb and the butterfat in butter and milk. Limiting how much beef, pork, lamb and butter you eat and swapping full-fat dairy products, like milk and cheese, for low- or nonfat versions will help too.

 

Saturated Fat

Butter. Sour cream. Mayo. These foods—as well as fatty cuts of meats—are high in the saturated fats that elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol, leading to plaque buildup in arteries. Limit saturated fats to 5 percent or less of your total calories (divide your weight by 12 to get the daily total limit in grams). For example, try replacing butter with vegetable-based oils, particularly olive and canola oil, both of which contain good amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and by swapping in lean poultry, fish and beans for higher-fat meats.

 

Salt

Americans on average take in 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. That’s a third more than the daily recommended limit of 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon salt) and more than double the 1,500 mg suggestion for adults age 51 and older and for anyone who is salt-sensitive (e.g., people who are African-American, those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease)—about half the U.S. population. Cutting your sodium intake can help lower high blood pressure and also reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on your salt intake is to not add it if you can’t taste it. In other words, don’t add salt to boiling water for pasta or potatoes, but add it to a dish when its impact will be strongest—usually at the end of cooking. A little salt goes a longer way if it’s sprinkled on a food just before serving; you’ll taste it in every bite.

Another way to slash your sodium intake is to replace sodium-laden processed foods with fresh foods. Other tricks: look for “low sodium” or “no-salt-added” labels and rinse canned beans.

 

Added Sugars

Let’s face it: Americans eat too much sugar. We consume 355 calories—or 22 teaspoons—of added sugars a day, says a recent study. Added sugars are those added to food by consumers or manufacturers. “Reducing added sugars will reduce cardiovascular disease risk,” says Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) writing group for the AHA scientific statement on sugars and cardiovascular disease and EatingWellnutrition advisor. “High intakes of added sugars are linked with increased risks for high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels, risk factors for heart disease.”

The AHA recommends that women limit their added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons, and men should eat less than 150 calories, approximately 9 teaspoons. (A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons.)

These recommendations apply only to added sugars, which supply calories but no nutritional value, and not to sugars that occur naturally in healthful foods (fructose in fruit, lactose in dairy). It’s fairly easy to keep track of sugars you add yourself. Added sugars in processed foods are more difficult to track. “Sugars” on Nutrition Facts panels include natural and added sugars. Check the ingredient list for sugar and all its aliases: corn sweetener or syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and syrup and sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose). In general, the closer sugars are to the top of the list, the more the food contains.

Article from EatingWell.com


Stuffed Delicata Squash

In this Tex-Mex-seasoned stuffed delicata squash recipe we swap out half of the ground beef you’d normally use for bulgur to reduce saturated fat without skimping on the amount of stuffing. Serve with a mixed green salad with cilantro vinaigrette.

Dietary Info: Low Calorie | High Fiber | Egg Free

Health Info: Heart Healthy | Healthy Immunity | Healthy Aging

Total Prep Time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 small delicata squash (about 12 ounces each), halved and seeded
  • 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef (90% or leaner)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons toasted pepitas (see Tip)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Place facedown on a large baking sheet. Bake until tender and browned on the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring bulgur and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add beef, chili powder and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and cook 1 minute. Stir in yogurt.
  5. Spoon about ¾ cup filling into each squash half. Serve sprinkled with pepitas.

Tip: For the best flavor, toast chopped nuts or seeds: Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add nuts or seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.


Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan – Day 7

Breakfast (255 calories)
Egg & Tomato Tortilla
• 1 corn tortilla
• 1 large egg, cooked in 1/4 tsp. olive oil or coat pan with a thin layer of cooking spray (1-second spray). Season with a pinch of pepper.
• 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
Top tortilla with egg and tomatoes.
• 1 medium banana

A.M. Snack (109 calories)
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Lunch (324 calories)
• 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

P.M. Snack (46 calories)
• 1 cup strawberries

Dinner (446 calories)
• 1 serving Stuffed Delicata Squash
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 1/4 cup grated carrot
Top greens with carrot and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil.


Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Tons of spice, corn and bell pepper give this healthy one-pot chicken chili recipe Southwestern flair.

Serve with your favorite hot sauce and tortilla chips.

 

 

Dietary Info: Egg Free | Nut Free | Soy Free | Gluten Free

Health Info: Healthy Aging | Healthy Immunity | Heart Healthy

Total Prep Time: 40 mins

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cubed sweet potato ( ½-inch)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken ( ½-inch; about 10 ounces)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • Sour cream, avocado and/or cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, sweet potato and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
  2. Add beans and broth (or stock) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in corn; cook 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper. Serve topped with sour cream, avocado and/or cilantro, if desired.

 


Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan – Day 6

Breakfast (266 calories)
Banana Oatmeal
• 1/3 cup rolled oats, cooked in 2/3 cup milk
• 1 medium banana, sliced
Cook oats and top with banana and a pinch of cinnamon.

A.M. Snack (136 calories)
• 1 cup blueberries
• 1 Tbsp. unsalted dry-roasted almonds

Lunch (308 calories)
Tuna & White Bean Salad
• 1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed
• 2 1/2 oz. (about 1/4 cup) chunk light tuna in water, drained
• 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 cucumber, sliced
• 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 cups mixed greens
Combine beans, tuna, tomatoes and cucumber. Toss with vinegar, oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Serve over greens.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (440 calories)
• 1 1/2 cups Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes
• 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.


Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad

The smoky flavors of grilled shrimp and corn in this healthy chopped salad recipe are a tasty match for the creamy cilantro dressing.

Dietary Info: Gluten Free | Egg Free | High Fiber

Health Info: Heart Healthy | Healthy Immunity | Healthy Blood Pressure

Total Prep Time: 50 mins

Ingredients

Salad Dressing

  • 5 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Salad

  • 1 pound raw shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 ears corn, husked
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • ¾ cup finely chopped red cabbage
  • ¾ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup assorted cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, halved again, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 slices crispy cooked bacon, diced

Directions

  1. To prepare dressing: Puree the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. To prepare shrimp & salad: Preheat grill to medium or heat a grill pan over medium heat.
  3. Toss shrimp with 2 teaspoons oil, lime zest, salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  4. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until slightly charred, 6 to 10 minutes. Grill the shrimp, turning once, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer corn and shrimp to a cutting board. Cut the kernels off the cob. Chop the shrimp into bite-size pieces.
  5. Combine lettuce, cabbage, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, fennel, avocado and bacon in a large bowl. Add the shrimp, corn and dressing; toss to coat. Season with pepper.

DIY grill basket: It’s best to use a grill basket when grilling small ingredients so they don’t fall into the fire. If you don’t have one, fold a 24-inch-long piece of heavy-duty foil in half and crimp up the edges to create a lip; this “basket” will prevent the food from sliding off the grates.

 

Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan – Day 5

Breakfast (288 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 2 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (13 calories)
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced

Lunch (336 calories)
Toaster-Oven Tostadas
• 2 corn tortillas
• 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
• 2 Tbsp. shredded Cheddar cheese
Top tortillas with beans, corn, bell pepper and cheese. Toast until the cheese begins to melt.

P.M. Snack (42 calories)
• 1/2 cup blueberries

Dinner (428 calories)
• 2 1/2 cups Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad
• 1 diagonal slice baguette (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole-wheat, toasted

Evening Snack (84 calories)
• 2 kiwis


Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan – Day 4

Breakfast (270 calories)
White Bean & Avocado Toast
• 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
• 1/2 avocado, mashed
• 1/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed and mashed
Top toast with mashed avocado and white beans. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (341 calories)
Green Salad with Chicken
• 2 cups mixed greens
• 3 oz. leftover cooked chicken breast
• 2/3 cup Roasted Beet Salad
Combine ingredients and top with 2 tsp. each lemon juice and olive oil.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (472 calories)
Black Bean & Corn Tacos
• 2 corn tortillas, warmed
• 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and mashed
• 1/2 cup corn
• 1/2 avocado, diced
• 1/4 cup salsa
Spread tortillas with beans. Top with corn, avocado and salsa.
• 2 cups mixed greens, topped with 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. olive oil and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper.


Roasted Beet Salad

Walnuts, red onion and dill make this roasted beet salad recipe a fantastic accompaniment to chicken or topping for hummus. If you can’t find beets with greens attached, use 1 pound of beets and 8 ounces of chard leaves.

Dietary Info: Vegetarian | Vegan | Gluten Free | Low Calorie | Low Carb | Low Sodium

Health Info: Heart Healthy | Diabetic Friendly

Total Prep Time: 3 h 15 min

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds baby beets with greens attached
  • 1 head garlic
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Rinse beets well. Cut off the greens, then cut the leaves off the stalks. Set the leaves and stalks aside. Remove excess papery skin from garlic head without separating the cloves, then cut the head in half horizontally.
  3. Toss the beets, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt in a small baking pan, such as a bread pan. Cover with foil. Roast until tender, 1 to 1¼ hours. Let cool slightly.
  4. Whisk vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into the bowl. Peel and dice the beets; add to the bowl. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  5. Finely chop the beet stalks and very thinly slice the greens; place in a large bowl. Scoop the beets from the pickling liquid with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl. Drizzle the beet mixture with ¼ cup of the pickling liquid. Add walnuts, onion, dill, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and gently toss to combine.

 

 

 


Healthy Blood Pressure Meal Plan – Day 3

Breakfast (270 calories)
Blueberry & Almond Yogurt Parfait
• 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup blueberries
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. slivered almonds
Top yogurt with blueberries and almonds.
• 1 2/3 cups cubed cantaloupe

A.M. Snack (50 calories)
• 2 medium carrots

Lunch (347 calories)
Mixed Greens with Lentils & Sliced Apple
• 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
• 1/2 cup cooked lentils
• 1 apple, sliced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
Top greens with lentils, 1/2 of the apple slices and feta. Dress the salad with 1 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil. Serve the remaining apple slices on the side.

P.M. Snack (62 calories)
• 1 medium orange

Dinner (448 calories)
• 1 1/3 cups Roasted Beet Salad
• 4 oz. chicken breast, cooked in 1 tsp. olive oil and seasoned with 1/4 tsp. cumin and a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper


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