Did you know that February is American Heart Month? At Power for Life Fitness, we’re taking the time this month to think about the ways we can support our heart health. One of the most powerful: Cooking and eating heart-healthy foods. That means favoring plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains that deliver anti-inflammatory antioxidants, plus mixing in sources of heart-healthy fats like fish and nuts. Here, a sample day of heart-healthy meals to try this month (and for a how-to on making the Sweet Potato Taco Boats, tune into Chef Anna’s virtual cooking demo on Wednesday, February 10 at 7pm!).
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Almond Butter and Berries
To make: Cook ½ cup of your favorite oats. Stir in 2 tbsp. almond butter, top with ½ cup fresh berries and serve.
How it supports your heart: Oats are a delicious source of whole grains, which deliver nutrients that support healthy arteries and blood pressure. Meanwhile, almond butter adds a dose of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and berries add a slew of powerful antioxidants.
Lunch: Spinach Salad with Salmon
To make: Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add an 8 oz. salmon fillet and cook 7 to 9 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes more, or until your desired doneness. In a bowl, toss 3 cups of fresh baby spinach with 2 cups of mixed fresh veggies. Top with the salmon and your favorite olive oil-based dressing and serve.
How it supports your heart: Salmon (and other fish like tuna, mackerel and trout) and olive oil are top sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce levels of harmful triglycerides and improve the health of blood vessels. Spinach and other leafy greens deliver a slew of vitamins and minerals that promote healthy blood pressure, while you can’t go wrong with fresh vegetables for keeping your heart happy.
Dinner: Sweet Potato Taco Boats
To make: Preheat oven to 400º and prick 4 sweet potatoes with a fork and bake until tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool, then split down the middle from end to end and scoop out a little to create a “bowl” for ingredients. Meanwhile over medium heat, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in a skillet. 2 cups of mixed fresh veggies (onions, peppers, carrots) and cook until tender and golden, 10 minutes. Add 1 lb. lean ground turkey and 2 tsp. of taco seasoning and cook until golden and no longer pink, 6 minutes. Fill each sweet potato boat with cooked turkey mixture and top with 4 tbsp.black beans and corn. When ready to eat, top with 1 avocado.
How it supports your heart: Sweet potatoes and bell peppers contain plant compounds called carotenoids which help keep arteries from becoming clogged. While eating meat can increase your risk of heart disease, ground turkey has less saturated fat than other meats, making it your best choice. In addition, corn is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage and helps wards off diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Dessert: Dark Chocolate and Red Wine
How it supports your heart: Go ahead and indulge! Dark chocolate and red wine both have antioxidants that support your cardiovascular system.