Heart Healthy Nutrition

By / Food / June 9th, 2011 / 1

If you’ve been wondering how to live a healthier life, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, you can count yourself among millions. Many Canadians are becoming increasingly hungry for good heart health strategies to improve their sense of wellness. June is the official month of summer. What better time to shed those extra pounds we put on over winter? If we create opportunities to make small and simple changes in eating habits, we’ll end up making a big difference to heart our overall health and quality of life. So, yes; this does mean no more late-night nacho noshing. Maybe you can join a gym. Just as valuable, however, is a 30 minute daily walk. It gets you moving, inhaling a load of fresh air and it burns up its fair share of calories.

Health professionals agree that commitment to adequate nutrition and exercise is essential for delaying or eliminating the possibility of chronic disease. Take charge of your heart health by eating foods that are “nutrient-dense”, like eggs, which are high in vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients, but low in saturated fat and calories. Eggs are also a rich source of protein that provides long-lasting energy. Seafood is another great choice, especially on those scorching days when the only thing that will cool you off and eliminate hunger is a big, healthful salad topped with grilled tuna.

“Nutritious, balanced meals and healthy snacks may reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by helping you increase your intake of heart-healthy nutrients, manage your weight, keep your blood pressure down, control your blood sugar levels and lower your cholesterol,” said Carol Dombrow, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant at Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Consider your heart when you fill up the cart. The first step toward improving your heart health and well-being is to make simple, healthy choices when grocery shopping. In fact, a diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and low in saturated and trans fat is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Consider these suggestions the next time that you’re shopping for groceries.

• Use extra-lean ground beef, ground chicken or turkey as they make a great substitute in chili or pasta sauces.

• Satisfy your sweet tooth with frozen yogurt or sorbet.

• Swap whole milk for 1% or fat-free milk.

• Purchase whole grains such as brown rice, pasta and 100% whole-wheat bread.

• Spice things up with fresh or dried herbs, instead of salt. If you insist on some salt, add a pinch to food early on in the cooking process. The meal will taste more flavourful, and there will be no need to salt your food at the table.

Leek and Sweet Potato Frittata
Prepares 4 servings

8 eggs
3 tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
1 tsp oregano, dried
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil
1 cup sweet potato, peeled, diced
1/3 cup prosciutto, chopped
2 tbsp Fontina cheese, grated

Whisk eggs with water, parsley and oregano; season with pepper. Set aside. Spray a 10-inch non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat. Sauté leeks, sweet potato and prosciutto for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Pour in egg mixture. As mixture sets at the edges, with spatula, gently lift cooked portion to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath. Cook until bottom is set and top is almost set. Sprinkle with cheese. Place under a preheated broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to melt cheese or cover skillet with a lid and cook another minute. Loosen edges and slide frittata onto a warm plate.

Apple and Spice Bread Pudding
Prepares 8 servings

2 tbsp margarine
2 apples, medium, cored and chopped
Olive oil
3 cups whole wheat bread, day old, cubed
1/2 cup raisins
4 eggs
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt margarine. Stir in apples. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Spray a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In dish, combine apples, bread cubes and raisins.
3. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until sugar is dissolved. Pour over apple mixture. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pudding until knife inserted in centre comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes. Serve hot, warm or chilled.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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