Celebrate Heart Month With These Tasty Tips

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Earlier this week I was on Let’s Talk Live in DC and WBAL in Baltimore sharing some easy and delicious ways you can eat your way to a healthy heart. No matter what time of day — breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks — I shared foods that will keep your heart and belly happy all day long. You can watch both videos below, but check out below for a few highlights too.

Tip #1: Go for Oats

 Research has shown that consuming 3g/day of oat soluble fiber – as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol – may help reduce the risk of heart disease. “Perfect Portions” is a fabulous new instant oatmeal product from Quaker and comes in a re-sealable package.  You can make as much or little as you like. Plus, it’s customizable and has no added sugar, so you can sweeten it your own way and choose the toppings you like. I especially love the cinnamon flavor with blueberries and almonds. It comes in Maple flavor too. It tastes delicious and it’s ready in minutes — what more can you ask for!

Tip #2 Makeover Your Meals

A typical restaurant lasagna might taste really good, but it has over a days worth of salt and 125% saturated fat! Two things we try and keep low for heart health. You can do better at home by taking another look at your cooking oil. Mazola corn oil has unstaturated fats, and plant sterols, which are one of the most effective nutrients at naturally lowering cholesterol by blocking “bad” LDL cholesterol from being absorbed.

This warm tomato and kale pasta , from Mazola’s Facebook page, is a heart healthy alternative to many pasta dishes, like lasagna. It’s lightened up by sautéing kale, tomatoes, and onions with Mazola, uses spices like chili powder and red pepper flakes instead of salt, and is combined with hot whole-wheat pasta. Mazola also makes a great light marinade. I combined it with reduced sodium soy sauce, ginger, and rice wine vinegar. Coat veggies and marinate for about 15 minutes, then stir-fry. A perfect side dish in just 10 minutes!

Tip #3: Snack “Heart Smart”

For a smart-heart snack, check the label and avoid  sodium and “bad fats” like saturated  and trans fats. You can still enjoy crunchy snacks, just make wise choices. Two great snack options are Wonderful Pistachios and veggies with creamy yogurt dip.

Almost 90% of the fat in Wonderful Pistachios is “good” unsaturated, making them a better snack choice than fried snacks like potato chips. They provide 8% of the Daily Value of potassium, which is more than other popular snack nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts. And, they have more than 10 different antioxidants. Lightly salted and no salt pistachios earn the American Heart Association’s certified heart-check.

Sour cream based dips can be high in saturated fat, but I love swapping fat free Greek yogurt to snack on with colorful, crunchy veggies. Just add a few fresh/dried herbs and you have a delicious dip. You can even combine with hummus or guacamole for a tangy flavor twist.

Tip #4 – Power Up Your Potassium

Most people don’t know the power of potassium in heart health. Potassium plays a crucial role in making your heart beat (kinda important!).

A great way to add an extra punch of potassium into your day is with Vita Coco coconut water. It is chock full of key electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and contains more potassium per serving than a banana! (515mg/45 calories vs 450mg/110 calories). At only 45-60 calories per serving, it’s nutrient rich, yet calorie poor, so you are getting more of a bang for your nutritional buck with what you’re drinking.

Other sources of potassium include potatoes – so try a baked potato with black beans paired with a salad for a quick weeknight dinner option.

How Do You Keep Your Heart Healthy?

I love to get new tips for heart-healthy meals and snacks — share one of your favorites with my by leaving a comment below.

Disclosure: I was compensated by Quaker Oats, Mazola, Wonderful Pistachios and Vita Coco for my TV appearance but was not compensated for writing this blog.

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