The diet for heart disease sometimes seems like a life-long sentence for tasteless food and mind-numbing routine in meals. But you can still have culinary fun even if you’re on a heart-healthy diet. Here's how!
The first step after your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure is to switch to a heart-healthy diet ASAP so that you won’t make the problems any worse and minimize the damage as much as possible. But if you think that dietary restrictions lead to a bland, tasteless life, think again! These tricks will make you healthier, but they will also satisfy your taste buds with great flavors and textures.
But first, what does a heart-healthy diet even mean? It's all about consuming food that lowers cholesterol, like oatmeal, which is rich in soluble fiber. Any foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, mostly fatty fish like salmon and mackerel lower the arrhythmia. Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruit, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Potatoes, as long as they're not fried, are great for your heart thanks to the potassium in them, which can help lower blood pressure. Nuts are rich in fiber and also in vitamin E, which helps lower bad cholesterol. It also means you have to exercise plenty if you want to be healthy.
4 tricks for a heart-healthy diet
1. Use herbs and spices
Just because you need to be careful with what you eat doesn’t mean you have to give up on different aromas. Our taste sense is wired to feel attracted to the flavors of salt and fat, which are both bad for your heart. So you have to let go of them... and embrace herbs and spices!
Start with the basics. We recommend classics like oregano, basil, and thyme. Do not forget about garlic and chili flakes. And if you want to go in an exotic direction, you have to try ginger, pepper, turmeric, and coriander. Whenever you love a dish somebody else cooked, ask them about the seasoning and try it for yourself in your next meals! Spicy food is actually very healthy!
2. Research inspired side dishes
Each main dish you cook works with some of the sides and clashes with others. Try to plan a meal together and always include seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. Side dishes are ideal if you want to bring more taste to your heart-healthy diet. You just have to find the right ones.
For instance, chicken goes well with carrots, green beans or asparagus. Wild salmon is excellent when served on a bed of arugula and avocado. There’s plenty of inspiration out there and there are loads of options better than fries!
3. Nuts all the way
They’re healthy, satisfying, nutritious snacks, but they also work with numerous dishes. Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts can help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure. You can eat them raw or, even better, we recommend you lightly roast them yourself, so you can avoid the oiliness and saltiness of the ones at the store. Try them in salads, cook them with fish, for that crunchy texture! Yes, they are pretty rich in fats, but they’re not the bad kind of fat.
4. Play with tea
Have you ever tried cooking with tea? Sounds a bit exotic, but bear with me here. Tea is very rich in antioxidants which can help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Especially the green and black tea varieties. And you can use them in multiple ways: as the liquid for poaching or steaming, or even as a base for a broth or sauce. In the summer you can drink them with ice, instead of having unhealthy sodas. And of course, you can add them to smoothies.