Watch Registered Dietitian Olivia Munger share her heart-healthy shopping tips and the recipes above with the hosts of KTXD's Take Charge Parenting.
When we think about foods related to heart health, we’re referring to ones that can help us prevent or manage conditions in our children like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
On the Lookout: Fats, Fiber and Salt
There are different types of fats that have drastically different effects on your heart:
- Trans-fats are manmade and will be found in packaged products.
- Saturated fats come from animal products such as meat, poultry, and butter and other high fat dairy products like milk and cheese made with whole milk. A special note for young children – whole milk is best for those under the age of 2, but after the child’s second birthday it is important to move to low fat milk.
- Omega-3s are the fats you want to seek out, because they are essential to heart health and most Americans do not eat enough. Omega-3s can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL) among many other health benefits. Fish, walnuts, and flax seeds are three foods that can help you meet your omega-3 needs. Fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, herring, trout, halibut, and mackerel have the highest levels of omega-3s.
- Fiber, which comes from grains, fruits and vegetables, has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Choosing more whole grains and shooting for five fruits and vegetables a day can help you take advantage of fiber’s benefits.
Watching your family's salt intake is also important. I hear a lot of people saying that they never salt food at the table, but unfortunately that is not where we are getting the majority of the salt we eat. Processed and restaurant foods account for more than 70% of the salt in American’s diets. Reading labels and seeking out restaurant menu information is critical for cutting your salt intake.
Including more heart-healthy foods in your family's meals can be easier than you think. Here are three recipes, representing each of the day's major meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- with heart-healthy alternative ingredients that you can try at home.
Breakfast: Blueberry Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Walnuts
Oatmeal is a great choice because it contains soluble fiber which is the best for lowering your cholesterol. You can also find soluble fiber in apples, pears and lentils.
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup non-fat milk
- ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- (Optional) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through baking
- Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Stir in toasted oats. Reduce health to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes or until oatmeal is soft and creamy, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from health and stir in 1 cup blueberries, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. 5. Spoon oatmeal into serving bowls and tip with remaining blueberries. Serves 4. Adapted from Driscolls.com
Lunch: Tuna Grape Salad
This recipe combines the sweetness of the grapes, the healthy oils of the tuna, low fat yogurt and more. Canned fish is an easy and affordable way to get more Omega-3’s. Salmon is the fish you hear about the most, but tuna is a good source as well. When you’re shopping for tuna, look for albacore canned in water.
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ½ teaspoon dill
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- One 12-ounce can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
- 1 cup halved red seedless grapes
- 3 tablespoons finely diced celery
- 4 cups mixed greens
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper until evenly combined.
- Gently stir in the tuna, grapes, and celery.
- Scatter the mix greens on a large serving platter and top it off with the tuna grape salad. 4. Serve with whole grain crackers or on a bed of lettuce. Adapted from pbs.org
Dinner: Homemade Pizza
According to the CDC, pizza is the number-one source of salt in children’s diets! Making pizza at home is a really fun way to get your family involved in dinner and cut the amount of salt you eat in half.
- 1-1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose white flour
- 3 ounces low-sodium tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup onion
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, sugar and flour to make dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover and set aside.
- Combine tomato paste, 1/2 cup water, garlic powder, Italian seasonings and remaining oil in a small saucepan and simmer 5 minutes.
- Chop onion and bell pepper.
- Brown meat with black and red pepper in a skillet. Drain off fat. Add onion and green pepper and sauté until soft, 3 – 5 minutes.
- Grease a 17” x 14” baking sheet or pizza pan. Press dough onto sheet. Spread sauce, meat mixture and cheese over dough. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until dough and cheese are golden brown.
- Cut into 12 servings. Adapted from Davita.com
Want more healthy recipes? Download our 10 Easy and Healthy Weeknight Suppers Your Kids Will Love.