It’s Valentine’s Day, and February is American Heart Month, so today, we are focusing on foods that are great for our hearts!
Tara Rochford, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Healthy Living Blogger, shares her recipes for a Healthy Heart Beet Berry Smoothie and Slow Cooker Taco Meatballs.
Heart Healthy Foods to Add to Your Plate
According to the CDC, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among men and women, making it important for everyone to pay attention to consuming foods that benefit our hearts.
Foods that are great for heart health:
● Leafy green vegetables – there are many benefits to leafy green vegetables, but when it comes to heart health the Vitamin K is what stands out. This promotes proper blood clotting and helps keep our arteries healthy.
● Whole grains – Grains like brown rice, whole wheat, barley, oats and buckwheat contain all parts of the grain (germ, bran and endosperm). The high fiber in these grains may help sweep LDL cholesterol out of our systems, which helps decrease the risk for heart disease.
● Berries – Berries (like raspberries, blueberries and strawberries) are very high in antioxidants, which can help reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation which may lead to heart disease.
● Walnuts – Walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Some studies have shown that eating walnuts will decrease LDL cholesterol and help lower blood pressure.
● Beets – Studies have shown that beet consumption helps decrease blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease.
Other foods that are heart healthy – beans, avocado, fatty fish (like salmon), tomatoes, almonds, seeds, garlic, olive oil, edamame, green tea
Healthy Heart Beet Berry Smoothie
Yields: 1 large smoothie or 2 smaller smoothies
2 clementines, peeled
½ cup frozen berries (any kind will do, but I love strawberries and raspberries)
½ frozen banana
1 small red beet, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon walnuts
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder, optional
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined/
You can enjoy it in a glass like this OR you can put it in a bowl and top it with some more heart healthy toppings like extra berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or oats for a little texture and added nutrition!
Slow Cooker Taco Meatballs
Yields: 4-5 servings
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
1 cup salsa (FODY Foods for low FODMAP)
¾ cup chopped walnuts, divided
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup ground oats or oat flour
½ cup green onion tops
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 lb ground turkey or chicken
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
Toppings: salsa, avocado, more green onion tops
Pour salsa in the bottom of a large slow cooker.
In a large bowl, combine ½ cup walnuts, cheese, ground oats, green onion, taco seasoning, ground turkey or chicken, green chiles and egg. Mix well with hands then form into 16 balls of equal size.
Place meatballs in the slow cooker and sprinkle the remaining walnuts into the tops of each meatball.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 90 minutes or low for 3 hours.
Top with your favorite toppings and serve with your favorite vegetable side dish.
Other ways to incorporate walnuts and heart healthy foods:
● Add a large side salad to your evening meal (you can top this with heart healthy nuts and seeds, add in all kinds of vegetables, and dress it with olive oil)
● Incorporate berries into an afternoon snack or dessert – will satisfy a sweet tooth and provide your body with antioxidants.
● Use whole grains as often as you can while cooking and baking.
You can find these recipes and more from me at:
Tara Rochford Nutrition on Facebook and @TaraRochford on Instagram