This post was written in partnership with Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and the Take Cholesterol to Heart initiative. All opinions and experiences written are my own.
Eating healthy and staying active are two important components of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. And what better time than American Heart Month to start making healthy changes for your heart? Today, I want to share practical insights that you can use to help improve your wellness choices, specifically in the kitchen.
Making healthy choices when it comes to our meals takes a little bit of planning if we want to be consistent in implementing them in the midst of a busy family life. With 3 kids, a husband and a full-time job, it’s easy to say, “I don’t have a lot of time to make elaborate meals from scratch.”
Because I have a history of heart disease and high cholesterol in my family, eating a balanced diet composed of meals made with heart-healthy ingredients are a top priority for me.
One of the most significant changes I made a few years back was reducing the amount of carbohydrates in my diet and adding foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as almonds, avocados and olive oil; since they can help improve cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. It can be deceiving because you can’t see or feel it like some other conditions, but it can have serious consequences.
While cholesterol is vital for many processes in the body, too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries, which may lead to a heart attack or stroke. It’s made by your liver, but it also comes from the foods you eat, which is why it’s important to make smart food choices to help manage your cholesterol levels.
Something else I’ve found easy to incorporate into my meals are foods high in soluble fiber like peas, legumes, apples, oranges, pears, berries, broccoli and oatmeal.
Heart-Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Some of my favorite breakfasts are also the simplest to make. You might like:
Of course, half the battle of eating a heart-healthy breakfast is being prepared in the morning when time is of the essence; which is why I love to make the oatmeal the night before and simply warm it in the morning; or throw all the smoothie ingredients in a blender and keep in the refrigerator overnight and simply blend in the morning.
Heart-Healthy Lunch Ideas
When it comes to lunch, I love making a batch of salads with lots of leafy greens, nutrient-dense ingredients like tomatoes and red cabbage, and finely chopped broccoli. Salads are easy to meal prep and as long as you keep your dressing on the side (olive oil + balsamic vinegar is my favorite), you’ll have fresh salad ready in the fridge for a couple of days!
Some of my favorite lunches to make ahead of time:
- Salmon Niçoise Salad
- PB + Apple Sandwich on Whole-Grain Bread
- Kale Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
I like to make 2 to 3 days’ worth of meals at a time, so they stay fresh and I feel like I have a variety of meals in my rotation.
When it comes to snacks, I typically grab a piece of fruit – usually mid-afternoon when I can use the pick-me-up and it’s not yet time to eat dinner.
Other great snack options are smoothies, a bowl of berries and a small handful of almonds.
Heart-Healthy Dinner Ideas
For most of us, dinner is one meal for which we have to take into consideration other people’s tastes and preferences. I understand that it can be tough to make meals that everyone will enjoy while incorporating heart-healthy ingredients.
Some of my favorite dinner recipes include:
Instead of frying your food, try boiling, grilling, roasting or poaching. Fajitas, one of my favorite restaurant meals, are really easy to make at home and so much healthier!
In the evenings, right before bedtime when snacking seems to be the thing my body craves, I tend to make myself a cup of green tea, which is rich in antioxidants and that seems to do the trick!
After a long day and once the kitchen is cleaned up, sitting with a warm cup of tea is exactly what I need to relax and end my day.
If you have high cholesterol, make sure to work with your doctor to ensure your management plan fits your unique needs and you can easily incorporate it into your lifestyle.
What are some of your favorite heart-healthy meals to make?
This post is sponsored by Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.