Discover which heart healthy foods you can add to your daily routine to maintain a heart healthy diet!
A well-balanced diet is essential to keeping your body healthy and preventing serious health problems, like heart disease. The NHS recommends a low-fat, high-fibre diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
Meal prepping is a great way to take control over your diet, allowing you to have a more mindful approach to the food you eat. A fridge full of pre-prepared meals reduces the urge to indulge in unhealthy convenience foods and makes it easy to eat nutritious, balanced meals everyday.
7 Heart Healthy Foods To Include in Your Meal Prep
Eating healthily doesn’t have to be a big deal. If you find it hard, try thinking of it as a series of small steps that increasingly take you closer towards maintaining a heart healthy diet. As a first step, here are 7 heart healthy foods that are easy to start introducing into your diet today, along with some recipe suggestions.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are packed full of nutrients that help to maintain a healthy heart. They’re high in fibre, full of antioxidants and rich in Vitamin C. Some studies have also suggested that they can help to lower cholesterol levels, protect your cells from high blood sugar levels and help to increase insulin sensitivity. They’re so easy to introduce into your diet - just sprinkle them on your breakfast cereal or porridge in the morning.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Overnight Oats.
This versatile ingredient is easy to include in your meal prep. It forms a delicious base of flavour for many healthy meals. Having been used for centuries as a natural health remedy, in more recent years garlic has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. It may even help to inhibit blood clot formation. To maximise the health benefits of garlic, eat it raw or crush it and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Tasty chicken and veg.
Did you know a well-balanced diet should include at least 2 portions of fish a week, 1 of which should be oily fish? That’s because they’re such a great source of vitamins and minerals. Oily fish, like salmon are also particularly high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to keep your heart healthy. It just so happens to also be a great, versatile ingredient that can be prepared quickly and easily! Other oily fish you may like to include in your diet are sardines, herring, trout, tuna, swordfish and mackerel.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Mustard, ginger and sesame seed salmon.
4. Dark Chocolate
If you ever needed an excuse to eat chocolate, here’s one: dark chocolate is high in antioxidants like flavonoids which help your body function more efficiently whilst protecting it against toxins and stressors. It’s been associated with a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease. Just be sure you choose good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70% and consume in moderation.
No meal prep idea needed for this one - just enjoy!
Not only are they a cheap form of protein, but beans are also great for your heart health. Many studies have shown them to reduce blood pressure and inflammation, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Pesto pomegranate butter bean bowl - go easy on the parmesan.
6. Whole grains
The fibre in whole grain foods can help reduce bad cholesterol, lowering your risk of heart disease. Base your meals around whole grain starchy carbohydrates like brown rice, wholegrain cereals and potatoes. Try swapping your usual bread for a whole grain loaf as a first step towards consuming more whole grain in your diet.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Fish taco bowl - use whole grain tacos or whole wheat tortillas.
7. Olive Oil
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has long been associated with lower blood pressure and heart disease risk. It’s high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, making it a much healthier alternative to vegetable oil or coconut oil. Use it everyday when cooking, or drizzle over salads to enjoy its health benefits.
Heart healthy meal prep idea: Roasted butternut squash, broccoli and pecan salad.
Foods To Limit For A Heart Healthy Diet
Try to limit the amount of salt and sugar you consume. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, and too much sugar can increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes - both of which make you more vulnerable to heart disease.
Foods that are high in saturated fat are best avoided or limited within a heart healthy diet. That’s because these foods increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, and consequently, your risk of heart disease. These foods are all high in saturated fat:
- Butter and lard
- Fatty cuts of meat, like sausages
- Cakes and biscuits
- Hard cheese
- Foods that contain palm oil or coconut oil
What Change Will You Make Today For A Heart Healthy Diet?
Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is all about making small changes in your daily routine. What heart healthy foods can you introduce into your diet today to take steps towards maintaining a healthy, balanced diet?