February is all about the heart–both romantically and health-wise. And one of the best ways to care for your heart is to have a diet full of nutritious foods. Embrace American Heart Month by trying this meal plan for a day. It’s full of dishes that are beneficial to your ticker and your taste buds.
Breakfast: Oatmeal is the way to go because it’s a great source of cholesterol-improving fiber. Try our Overnight Oatmeal or make the plain instant kind. Once it’s ready, stir in a tablespoon of canned pumpkin, then top with a tablespoon of low-fat yogurt, a teaspoon of maple syrup and a few chopped walnuts. Walnuts have more antioxidants that lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation than any other nut.
Morning Snack: Homemade Kale chips will provide some nutritious mid-morning crunch. Kale helps lower cholesterol and is a great source of Vitamin K, which helps prevent hardening of the arteries. Vitamin K also helps regulate normal blood clotting, so it might be wise to confirm it’s safe for you to eat lots of leafy greens if you take anticoagulant medications.
Lunch: We’ve shared lunch ideas from around the world that are heart-healthy, like Asian chicken lettuce wraps and quinoa taco salad. If you’re looking for another option, make a meal out of whole wheat pita with salmon salad. Mix two ounces canned salmon with one tablespoon light mayonnaise and ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard. Finish the salad off by stirring in a chopped tomato. Line a whole wheat pita with romaine lettuce and fill with salmon salad. Canned salmon is an excellent source of heart-loving calcium and is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Afternoon Snack: Non-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein with no saturated fat or cholesterol and is lower in sodium than regular yogurt. Top with fresh berries to tide yourself over until dinner.
Dinner: Top the day off with a four-ounce filet mignon served with a tossed green salad and a side dish of steamed vegetables. Lean red meat is high in protein and can help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Pick the right cut though—lean cuts like filet mignon are low in saturated fat.
Dessert: Try Grilled Peaches with Angel Food Cake and Red Wine Sauce. Angel food cake, made with egg whites, is very low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol. Red wine has its heart health benefits, too. It’s high in antioxidants that reduce the risk of inflammation and blood clots. Red wine also contains resveratrol, which may help prevent damage to blood vessels, prevent blood clots and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Photo credit: lizziecow