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Oftentimes, we all enjoy a meal that is unhealthy but did you know that while it’s quite common to adopt an unhealthy diet about 90% of us are not getting the proper daily amount of vegetables?

For this reason, we want to highlight the importance of a diet that is full of fruits and vegetables and the benefits they contribute to your heart health. Which vegetables and fruits are the most heart-healthy though?

To help, we’ve shared below some of the best fruits and vegetables that you can have for a heart-healthy diet, as well as when they’re in season.

Heart Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

Berries

Berries such as strawberries and blueberries are believed to carry antioxidants that help to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. This is attributed to the benefit of compounds known as anthocyanins, and flavonoids.

When they’re available: 

  • Strawberries: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Blueberries: July, August, and September
  • Cranberries:  September,  October and November
  • Raspberries: July, August, September, and  October

Potatoes

Although potatoes can be more challenging to your heart-healthy dining, if you don’t deep fry them, they can be extremely good for your heart. They’re rich in potassium and high in fiber (if the skin is left on), which again, can help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

When they’re available: year-round

Tomatoes

Similar to potatoes, tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help to get rid of “bad ” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and lower heart attack risk.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: year-round
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Broccoli, Spinach and Kale

When it comes to your heart health, you can’t go wrong with vegetables. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or kale can give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and can free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fiber and contain lots of vitamins and minerals.

When they’re available: 

  • Broccoli: June, July, August, September, and October
  • Spinach: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Kale: June, July, August, September, and October

Avocado

These soft, tasty fruits will provide your body and heart with plenty of healthy fats. They’re composed of monounsaturated fats, high in antioxidants, and also contain potassium to help lower heart disease factors.

When they’re available: (commercially) generally year-round

Asparagus

One of the most important heart-healthy ingredients that are found in asparagus is vitamin B6. This vitamin can lower homocysteine, a form of amino acid that has been linked to heart disease.

When they’re available: May and June

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers contain folate, another nutrient that can reduce homocysteine.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Carrots

Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can combat free radicals that cause heart disease.

When they’re available: February, March, April, May,  July, August, September, October, November, and December

Garlic

Garlic contains phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect the heart against diseases.

When they’re available: February, July, August, September, October, November, and December

Onions

Onions are a rich source of sulfur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can reduce cholesterol levels, and therefore, prevent heart disease.

When they’re available: year-round

If you’re interested in learning about other heart-healthy foods, check out our post on Ten Essential Foods For A Heart-Healthy Diet; And if you’d like to know when other fruits and vegetables are available, check out Foodland Ontario’s page.

Bulgur wheat salad with Broccoli

Serves 2

Ingredients

QuantityIngredient
2/3 CupBulgur wheat
300mlHome-made or low salt stock
1 CupCherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
2Spring onions
1Baby Cucumber, diced
 2 TbspFresh parsley or watercress
1 TbspFresh mint
Dressing 
2tspOlive oil
2tspLemon juice
2tspFresh Orange Juice

Instructions

  1. Put the bulgur wheat in a small saucepan and cover with the stock. Bring to boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, fluff with a fork, and leave to cool – the grains will absorb the warm liquid.
  2. Chop the broccoli finely and the parsley and mint leaves finely. If you have a blender, you could quickly blend them all together to save time. In a salad bowl, mix together the broccoli, tomatoes, onions, cucumber and herbs.
  3. Whisk together the oil, lemon and orange juice and stir into the bowl with the cold bulgur wheat grains. Add an extra squeeze of lemon or orange juice to taste.

Cook’s tips

Cover with cling wrap and it will keep in the fridge for 2–3 days. Add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice to refresh it.

This is great as a side dish but to make it a main dish, add chopped roast chicken or turkey, flaked poached salmon or reduced-fat Greek-style Feta cheese and serve with salad.

This recipe was found on the British Heart Foundation’s site. We have plenty of heart-healthy recipes, but if you’re looking for more, they’re a great resource. 

Recipes From Our Resident Expert, Marsha Rosen, RD
Here are some heart-healthy recipes provided by Marsha Rosen, RD (Registered Dietitian). Marsha is
Mike Salem’s sister and in addition to offering private nutrition counselling, Marsha provides group lectures, seminars and cooking demonstrations.

If you have a nutrition question for our dietitian, you can email Marsha here…

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by healthy eating, but your overall health will benefit if you can stick with healthy basics during this trying time. That means filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit, a quarter with protein-rich foods, and a quarter with whole grains, as described by Canada’s Food Guide.

Preparing meals can seem complicated though with hard to get ‘superfoods‘ seeming like the only way to cook nutritiously. But this is simply not the case — heart healthy foods are hiding in plain sight at every grocery store across the country. Fresh, frozen, shelf-stable and more, these delicious whole foods benefit your total body health. Below are some of our tips that you can use, without breaking the bank.

Choose Wisely

Plan your meals ahead of time, so you can shop once and get groceries for the next week or two. When you plan your meals, make sure to use your perishable vegetables, fruit and protein options first, and save the canned, frozen and shelf-stable food for later.

Peel it Yourself

Buying foods in their close-to-natural state will always save you money. A one kilogram bag of whole unpeeled carrots costs about one-third the price of the same size bag of pre-cut baby carrots. Convenience comes with a higher price tag.

Go Meatless on Monday

Pick one or more days per week to go fully meatless, focusing on the highly affordable protein found in beans, legumes, eggs and tofu. Transform humble edamame beans into an edible masterpiece with this Carrot, Parsnip and Edamame Salad, ideal for lunch or dinner on the days you go meatless, or any day.

Choose In-Season Foods

Shopping in season is a simple way to enjoy a healthy diet on a budget, without even thinking twice. Head to your local farmers’ market or grocery store each week with growing seasons in mind. For instance, buy asparagus in April or May (not December!) and strawberries in June. In the summertime, you’re spoiled for choice, though this way of cooking and eating works year-round.

Use Frozen Vegetables

Picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen, these ice-cold health foods are often just as nutritious as they are fresh. Choose frozen produce free of sauces, salt and sugar, and keep your eye out for sales during the week. They’ll keep for months, allowing you to buy in bulk and add to stews, stir-fries, salads, sides and soups.

With the summer season upon us, it means that many Canadians will be taking full advantage of the outdoors. Summer allows us to enjoy activities that we wouldn’t normally have the ability to do the rest of the year as the environment is often too cold.

For these reasons, Canadians tend to gravitate towards BBQing and eating outdoors as primary summer activities.

The change in climate doesn’t always provide you with the best benefits though, as foods that you reserve for summer can also bring a lot of risk to your diet. Many of us are prone to gravitating towards less healthy choices that might be higher in fat, such as burgers and hot dogs.

Here are some heart-healthy food ideas for you to consider this summer:

Heart Healthy Meals

Tilapia and Vegetables

Grilled Corn Salsa

Piri Piri Chicken

Bulgur Wheat Salad

Peachy Chicken Salad

Summer Fruit Smoothie Ice Pops

Vanilla Lemon Berry Parfaits

Tart Apple Buttermilk Cake

Recipes From Our Resident Expert, Marsha Rosen, RD
Here are some heart-healthy recipes provided by Marsha Rosen, RD (Registered Dietitian). Marsha is 
Mike Salem’s sister and in addition to offering private nutrition counselling, Marsha provides group lectures, seminars and cooking demonstrations.

If you have a nutrition question for our dietitian, you can email Marsha here…

Do you have a heart-healthy recipe that you would like to share? Send your recipes to info@mikeynetwork.com

Valentine’s Day is an event celebrated across the world, which exemplifies the day of love and romance. If you are planning on having your loved one(s) over for Valentine’s Day and you aren’t sure about what to make or buy, perhaps these easy yet fun ideas can help you! Express your love through these heart-healthy yet delicious snacks!

Photo Credits: https://binged.it/2Bxsc71

  1. A Pizza My Heart: There’s no better way to win over someone’s heart than to give them some thin-crust home-made pizza! Home-made pizza is definitely a healthier option! You can even cut out the dough into heart shapes!

Things you need:

  1. Option One: Whole-Wheat Dough

Option Two: Whole-grain tortilla. If you decide to go with this option, whole-grain tortillas are more personalizedTherefore, you       can make one or two per person.

  1. Vegetables (optional)
  2. Turkey Pepperoni as a healthier choice, instead of beef or pork
  3. Cheese
  4. Pizza Sauce

What to do:

Oven: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place a pizza baking tray on the lowest rack of your oven.

For Vegetables: If you choose to use vegetables, put a little olive oil in a skillet and sauté them until the vegetables are tender.

Creating Your Pizza: This is the fun part in making your delicious creation! Place your pizza sauce, cheese, turkey pepperoni, and your tender vegetables onto your whole-wheat pizza dough or tortilla’s. Then place it in the oven, until the cheese is melted and your dough is golden-brown.

The only thing left to do is, eat!

Food Recipe: https://bit.ly/2I7oBT3

Photo Credit: https://binged.it/2SGxG9i

2.You’re one in a Melon: Fruits are a great source of nutrients and natural sugar. They are also a great way to open up your digestive tract and clean your pallet.

For this heart-healthy snack you can pick any fruit you like. Some options can include watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. You will need three items:

  1. Your fruits of choice
  2. Popsicle or shortened skewer sticks
  3. Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter

Take your heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out heart shapes out of your fruits, then place the Popsicle or shortened skewer sticks in bottom of the fruit. This will give your snack a Popsicle effect, which is a great snack-serving idea.

Photo and Idea Credit : https://bit.ly/2GlMjJm

3.You are the Jelly to my Peanut-butter(or Soy-Nut butter) Heart: YUM! What better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a peanut-butter/soy-nut butter and jelly heart shaped sandwich?

Things You Need:

  1. Peanut Butter/Soy-nut butter
  2. Jellies of your choice – Two options are strawberry or raspberry jam.
  3. Slice Bread (brown bread is a healthier option compared to white bread)

What to do:

  1. Cut your bread into a beautiful heart shape. After you do this, take one of the slices and cut out a heart shape within the bread.
  2. Spread your peanut butter/soy-nut butter and jelly of your choice on this delicious sandwich and serve!

There are many benefits to peanut-butter and jelly. Some of them include Vitamin E and fiber. This helps improve blood flow in your body.

We hope that these heart-healthy yet delicious treats are an easy way to say ‘I love you’ to your loved one(s) on Valentine’s Day. From us at The Mikey Network to you and yours, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!