Taking care of your heart is as easy as eating plants, pure and simple. We realize it sounds boring to eat “heart-healthy” with new dieting and food trends on the rise these days, but when you think about it, a weight-friendly diet is actually quite similar to a heart-healthy diet. All plant foods are said to be a cornerstone of any weight-loss diet and any heart-health diet, so why not make things simple and combine the two?
Plus, when your heart is healthy by eating whole, plant-based foods, your exercise improves and becomes more enjoyable; you have more energy, your weight starts to improve due to lower levels of cholesterol and harmful fats and sugars, and your blood sugar improves to help you fight off cravings and fatigue. Check out the other benefits of a plant-based diet here.
Let’s chat about some foods and meal ideas that can keep both your waistline and your heart health in check. Don’t worry- these aren’t bland or boring and they might just make you reconsider what it means to eat “heart-healthy.”
Apples are one of nature’s finest gifts – they’re like pieces of hand-held candy ready to eat at our disposal. One apple contains 4-5 grams of fiber, along with a large dose of Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants that ward off disease. The fiber in apples known as pectin, actually gels up in your body to help you stay full and sweep cholesterol from the bloodstream and digestive tract. Eating one to two apples a day (preferably organic) is a great way to stay full and satisfied all while taking care of your heart at the same time. They’re also totally portable and are one of the best, easy vegan foods to eat on the go.
Grab a Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, or just a basic Red Delicious apple; they’re all fabulous for you!
Berries have been shown to aid in bowel and digestive health, along with remove arterial plaque from cell walls. Just one half cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber for only 50 calories. Blackberries contain 9 grams per 3/4 cup and blueberries contain 6 grams per half cup. Berries are also delicious! Try out some of the well-known superfood goji berries in these 8 delicious goji berry recipes!
Beets have been found to lower heart disease, improve oxygen production, and aid in detoxification of the liver. In terms of specifics, they bind to bile and help remove carcinogens that can lead to cancer. Try giving beets a sweet flavor by roasting them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. They take on a caramelized flavor and starchy texture that’s incredibly satisfying and fuss-free. and have actually been shown to become more nutritious after cooking since the nutrients are absorbed easier once digested than when eaten raw.
Beans have been found to remove cholesterol from the body and clear the digestive tract from wastes like carcinogens and bile. They’re also helpful for filling you up and reducing your blood sugar, along with aiding in digestive health. If you have a hard time digesting beans, opt for some savory hummus to start, which is a bit easier than whole beans themselves. Green peas and other legumes are also great additions to any heart health or weight-friendly diet plan.
Oats are one of the most recommended foods for your heart, and it’s no wonder – they’re packed with soluble fiber that removes cholesterol and aids in digestive health to help your heart even further. Oats are also very filling and can help ward off diabetes due to the way they affect your blood sugar. We love making new variations of overnight oats with fun seasonings such as cinnamon, vanilla beans, and even turmeric. Not a fan of overnight oats? Try these heart-healthy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Oat Bars that your heart and tummy will both love!
Rye is a grain most people avoid because it naturally contains gluten, and that’s too bad. Rye is actually an incredible grain and less likely to cause problems like the gluten found in wheat does. Wheat is a highly allergenic food, but rye is a completely different grain itself. Per serving, it’s lower in calories than any other grain, contains more fiber than many grains, and is virtually fat-free unlike some other grains. Rye has also been found to help improve digestive health due to a certain type of fiber it contains. This helps improve your heart health since a healthy digestive system is important for maintaining good heart health and even preventing cancer.
Rye has also been found to aid in weight loss, so if you’re looking to drop a few pounds, give rye a try this week! Barley is another grain that’s good for heart health despite it’s natural levels of gluten. Unless you have a true allergy, don’t avoid rye and barley when it comes to getting a variety of whole grains into your diet.
I like having hot rolled rye flakes in place of oatmeal and also eating fiber-rich rye crackers with some raw almond or cashew butter and sliced bananas or apple butter. This Rye Spaghetti with Hazelnuts, Zucchini, and Pumpkin is by far one of the most delicious ways I’ve seen this grain served. Your weekly Monday night spaghetti dinner will never be the same!
Other Especially Heart-Healthy Foods Include:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Almonds (raw)
- Cashews (raw)
- Chia Seeds
What are your favorite heart-healthy foods?
Image Source: Rye Spaghetti with Hazelnuts, Zucchini, and Pumpkin