Eating well is one of the most important steps we can take toward a healthy heart. In study after study, an unhealthy diet has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, but choosing the right foods can go a long way toward improving cardiovascular health.
According to experts at the American Heart Association, eating oily fish at least twice a week should be part of heart-healthy eating plan. The beneficial Omega-3 fats found in certain fish (such as salmon, trout and herring) promote heart health—in part due to their natural anti-inflammatory properties—and the AHA recommends eating two 3.5-ounce servings each week. Here are two quick and easy recipes to help you get started:
Baked Trout with Spinach & Tomatoes
Two 4-ounce trout fillets
One 10-ounce package fresh spinach
2 small plum tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped pitted black olives
1 tbsp. drained capers
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°. Place fillets in shallow glass baking dish. Top with the spinach, tomatoes, shallots, olives, and capers. Drizzle orange juice over each fillet. Bake approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Remove from oven; sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.
Grilled Wild Salmon with Mango Relish
½ small mango (pulp removed), diced
2 tbsp. diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp. diced red onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. grated lime zest
½ tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
Two 4-ounce wild salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: To prepare the relish, combine mango, red pepper, onion, parsley, cilantro, lime zest, garlic and lime juice; refrigerate 1 hour. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper; grill until fish flakes (about 4 minutes per side). Top fillets with relish and serve.
Fast food commercials make dinner seem quick and easy—but is it worth the impact to your health and your waistline? Recent studies have found that although portion sizes have stopped growing in the last decade or two, the amount of calories, saturated fat and sodium served at the drive-thru is still far too high, contributing to a nationwide increase in obesity and chronic disease. In 2015, make it your goal to curb the fast food and cook more meals at home.
A new study out of Johns Hopkins University examined the eating habits of roughly 9,000 U.S. adults and found that those who prepare and eat the majority of their meals at home consume fewer calories, unhealthy fats and carbohydrates—not to mention less sugar—than those who opt for fast food.
The study, published this month in the journal Public Health Nutrition, was led by Julia Wolfson, a trained chef and fellow at the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future. While many people think cooking at home is too expensive or time consuming, says Wolfson, she stresses it is often easier than one might think. Here are a few simple tips to help you get started:
- Plan ahead! Choose recipes, make a list and shop over the weekend to make weeknight meal prep faster and simpler. You can also chop veggies in advance, or prepare and freeze meals and individual portions.
- Choose fewer processed foods, more real foods. Learn to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you will find fresh produce and healthy protein sources. Avoid the center aisles that contain pre-packaged, processed foods loaded with added sugar and carbs.
- Take a beginner cooking class or go online. Classes are often offered through local schools and community centers, but the Internet is also a valuable resource for recipes, ideas and instruction. Just one video can transform dinner!
- Get kids involved. Even the pickiest kids and teens will usually try something new if they are included in the process. Let them choose recipes, help with shopping and preparation, and even offer their own suggestions.
With better nutrition comes better health and weight management, and cooking at home allows us to make smarter choices about the foods we eat and the meals we prepare for our families. The more you cook at home, the simpler it will get, and the healthier you will feel in 2015!