Heart Healthy Ingredients to Add to Your Summer Meal Plan
“Health requires healthy food.” – Roger Williams
If what Roger Williams says is true (which we all know deep down it is!), then the way to living a healthy life is to add the best foods into our diet. Of course, when we hear someone discussing ‘healthy eating’ we always picture those leafy green vegetables that will aid us in going down a size or two. But what we don’t often think about is the types of ingredients we need to add to our meal plan to help our hearts! Because, without our hearts, there truly is no ‘living’ at all! Wondering what the best foods are for the summer? Take a look at these heart healthy ingredients that are perfect to add to your summer meal plan!
Nothing says summer foods like avocados! These wonderful green fruits are loaded with good fats (monosaturated) that work to reduce cholesterol levels, which in turn is good for your heart. Avocados are also an amazing source of vitamins as they contain vitamin C, K, E, and B-6 which will keep your heart and your entire body in better shape! Add this bright green ingredient into any salad, serve it smashed on rye toast with egg, or make healthy guacamole!
For late spring and early summer, the beautiful and fragrant flower lavender is in bloom. You may be wondering how a flower can help your heart, but it is this vibrant ingredient that can reduce stress, lower anxiety, help with insomnia, and alleviate depression. How does this connect to the heart? Problems with mental health and sleep often lead to raised blood pressure and the increased risk of heart disease. But not this summer! Add lavender to your meal plan through the use of fresh or dried petals to enhance sauce flavors, added to iced drinks, or use in marinades or rubs!
Of all the in-season fruits of summer, berries are in abundance! Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… the list goes on for flavourful berries that will excite your taste buds! The reason these small fruits are so good for us is because they are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, as well as fiber. Studies have found that adding these heart healthy ingredients into your diet will have some extraordinary results for your overall health, including:
- Work to prevent cardiovascular disease
- Reduce risk of heart attacks
- Help to fight chronic disease
- May improve blood sugar levels
- Assist with weight loss and weight management
- Boost immune system
- And so much more!
These superfoods are something you should add into your smoothies, salads, or even have them as a snack throughout the day!
When you think of gardening, one of the first plants to be recommended is tomatoes! Growing your own tomatoes is easy and this delicious fruit has everything you need to spice up your summer meal plans while also ensuring you get those heart healthy ingredients. Two of the nutrients found in tomatoes are lycopene (a healthy antioxidant that gives it the red colour) and potassium (a heart-healthy mineral). These nutrients found in tomatoes work to protect your blood cells, reduce the risk of blood clots, and decrease bad cholesterol. Use tomatoes to make your own pasta sauce, add in a caprese salad, or make a healthy bruschetta!
Summer would not be complete without watermelon! This juicy fruit is a tasty snack for hot days, as well as a treat for kids. But don’t let this fruit fool you! Watermelon, despite its amazing and sweet taste, is loaded with heart healthy nutrients. The fruit is extremely hydrating due to its high water content; as well it contains minerals and vitamins that help the heart! High concentration of lycopene (the red antioxidant also found in tomatoes) is also found in watermelon, which works to protect your heart!
The green leafy herb used in the culinary world should be one item you use in your meal plan this summer! Although these leaves are small, adding them into meals will provide you with vitamins A B6, C, K as well as Magnesium. Vitamin A and magnesium in particular have been studied and proven to show promotion of good cardiovascular health. This ingredient can help to reduce cholesterol and reduce your risk for arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. Add this into your meals by using it in sauces, spicing up side dishes, or to freshen up your drinks!
Add these in-season heart healthy ingredients to your summer meal plan for a boost! Your heart will thank you!