February has long been known for its attention to hearts – with Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month both taking place during this month. As you’re working on your commitment to the Salad Swap, pay special attention to choosing salad ingredients that will benefit your heart in addition to your waistline! You may not be aware, but many of the Salad Swap recipes are already filled with heart-healthy ingredients. Here are 5 of the best ingredients for your heart and recipes in which you can find them!
- Beans: A source of protein, which helps you maintain stable blood sugar levels and keeps you satiated, beans are also a good source of the heart-healthy nutrients magnesium, folate, and niacin. Try the Chicken Rice & Black Bean Salad Bowl.
- Blueberries: All berries are good for you, but blueberries are chock-full of antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins that keep your heart ticking. These little blue berries are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, folate, and fiber. Try blueberries in the Fresh Express Red, White, and Blue Salad.
- Kale: Gaining popularity over the past few years, kale has been called a superfood and “one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.” A leafy green member of the Brassica family (along with Brussels sprouts and broccoli), kale is brimming with antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K. And its fiber content can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Try the Lemon Tilapia with Kale Chips for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Fatty Fish: Ever hear of omega-3 fatty acids? That’s what accounts for the bulk of heart-health benefits of fish (and other foods like walnuts). Omega-3s are a form of unsaturated fat that have been shown to help decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Salmon is most well-known for it’s omega-3 content, but tuna is a good source too. Instead of a mayo-laden tuna sandwich, try this Peppercorn-Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad!
- Avocados: This creamy fruit is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart. Not to mention the other nearly 20 vitamins and minerals avocados contain, including folate, potassium, and vitamins E and C. And they taste great! You can enjoy them mashed into guacamole, spread on a burger in place of cheese, or cubed in a salad. Try them in the Southwest Chicken Salad or Southwest BLT Salad. Both of these recipes can be found on the Salad Swap site.
By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express