20+ Heart-Healthy Foods for Your Summer Recipes
Eating fresh. Staying active. Sticking to a heart-healthy routine can feel easier in the summer — which is why it’s the perfect time to take stock of your grocery list and ensure that you’re choosing ingredients that maximize your cardiovascular health. Here, a cardiologist and dietitian from NewYork-Presbyterian help us understand how we can keep our hearts in great condition—with more than 20 examples of heart-healthy ingredients you can use in recipes now, during the summer, and year-round.
Meet The Experts
Dr. Altaf Pirmohamed is the Director of Cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Pirmohamed, who sees patients in his outpatient practice as well as in the hospital, recognizes that the cornerstone of long-term cardiovascular health begins with preventive care and works closely with each patient to individualize their care plan.
Emily Buchholtz, RD, CDN, CSO, is a Registered Dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Emily is an advocate and proponent of nutrition (and exercise) as being integral to caring for patients through the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
The Golden Rules for Heart-Healthy Eating
For Dr. Pirmohamed, the musts start with a plant-based diet: “Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are beneficial for heart health,” he says.
For those who want meat in their diet, Dr. Pirmohamed recommends the Mediterranean Diet that’s rich in lean proteins such as salmon and chicken breast, with a focus on other sources of protein such as nuts. The diet also gets good grades for including food that is low in fat and not processed. “If you choose to include animal products, opt for lean sources of protein such as skinless chicken breast, fish—especially fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, and trout—and lean cuts of meat,” Dr. Pirmohamed advises. “Limit saturated and trans fats found in processed and fried foods.”
To learn more heart-health tips from Dr. Pirmohamed and other NewYork-Presbyterian physicians, check out this NewYork-Presbyterian Health Matters article.
And remember that eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up your favorite recipes. “You can adopt heart-healthy guidelines to fit traditional dishes and ingredients, making substitutions where possible to reduce saturated fats and sodium,” says Buchholtz.
A Heart-Healthy Shopping List
Meats: Choose lean meats such as skinless chicken breast or turkey, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, and trout).
Fruits and vegetables: Opt for a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, as these vibrant hues are directly related to healthy heart antioxidants, fibers, and vitamins.
Grains and starches: Opt for whole grains like oats, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta. Popcorn can also be a heart-healthy snack option when prepared without excess butter or salt.
Herbs: Herbs are great for overall health and can add wonderful flavor to food and beverages without adding sugar or saturated fat. Some of the best summer herbs are basil, mint, and rosemary. Basil is rich in antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation. Mint is rich in vitamins A and C and contains soothing properties and digestive benefits. Rosemary is rich in antioxidants and helps reduce inflammation.
Beverages: Water should be your first choice, but unsweetened herbal teas, low-fat milk, or small amounts of 100% fruit juice can be consumed in moderation.
Foods to Avoid
Keeping your heart top of mind also includes cutting out certain ingredients that will work against all your good choices from the “musts” list above. Dr. Pirmohamed recommends avoiding:
In addition to these specific ingredients, Dr. Pirmohamed cautions against overeating. “Excessive calorie intake can lead to weight gain, obesity, and cardiovascular problems,” he explains. “Practice portion control and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.”
A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
Once you’re on the right track with a heart-healthy diet, what else can you do to support your cardiovascular health? Here’s what Dr. Pirmohamed recommends:
Finally, remember that you can always reach out to a cardiologist for additional insight into your cardiovascular health, says Dr. Pirmohamed. They can look at your personal and family medical history to help you better understand your risks and what you can do to improve or maintain your heart health.
A registered dietitian can also help you tailor your dietary choices based on your individual needs, preferences, and any existing medical conditions, Buchholtz adds.
A Heart-Healthy Summer Recipe
“Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA,” says Buchholtz, who provided this easy recipe. “These fatty acids have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and reduce inflammation. Salmon is also a good source of protein.”
Mint Chimichurri Salmon
Mint Chimichurri Ingredients
For additional health and wellness insights from the team at NewYork-Presbyterian, bookmark healthmatters.nyp.org. Shop for heart-healthy ingredients and more at Tin Building and Fulton Stall Market at the Seaport.