As women we are often told to act from the heart, love from the heart, work from the heart, and follow your heart. With all this love to give, shouldn’t we keep that vital organ healthy? February is American Heart Month, and with heart disease being the No.1 killer of women in the U.S, it’s time we tune into the beat of our own drum. Having a healthy heart starts with what we put into our bodies, but I know how hard eating healthy can be (especially when things like pizza exists!) So to curb your appetite, here are our top 5 heart-healthy snacks.
- Healthy Carrot Fries
Sneaky little things! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a raw carrot kind of gal. By roasting in the oven, the carrots create crispy caramelized corners that are one of my favorite healthy snacks. Not to mention carrots contain substances called carotenoids, aka powerful heart-healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants found in whole, colorful foods help protect the artery walls from plaque which is a contributing cause to heart disease. They’re the perfect medium between bar food and health food! All you need to do is crank your oven to 425 F, slice carrots, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and throw in the oven until crisp. You could also follow a real recipe like this one!
Ch-Ch-Ch Chia Pudding
Step aside oatmeal; there are new healthy snacks in town! Whole grain oats have been praised for their heart-health benefits, specifically fiber. But did you know chia seeds pack the same punch and then some? A serving of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber, 5 grams of heart-healthy omega-3’s and minerals like magnesium and calcium. Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats for lowering inflammation in the body. Impressive right? The Western diet is full of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids found in processed vegetable oils like canola, soybean, cottonseed and peanut oil. It’s important we eat more omega-3’s to balance them out- chia seeds are a yummy way to do that! So if you’re tired of oats, try chia seed pudding instead. For a healthy snack, mix 2 tbsps of chia seeds with ¼ cup milk of your choice. Stir and let sit in the fridge. Eat with berries, granola and a touch of honey. It never disappoints!
The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg
I think the egg deserves an apology, don’t you? For years eggs have been demonized for their cholesterol but recently stepped back into the spotlight as a nutrition powerhouse. Especially the yolk! Egg yolks provide an antioxidant boost with vitamins A, D, E and K along with those heart-healthy omega-3’s. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, meaning the body can only absorb them in the presence of fat (which the egg has). Fat-soluble vitamins D and K are especially essential to cardiovascular health, as insufficiencies in them have shown association to hypertension and heart failure. Eggs are a one-stop shop when it comes to these vitamins! They also one of nature’s perfect on the go healthy snacks when hardboiled with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Baked Avocado Fries
Catch my drift yet? I love fries, and in any form. Carrot? Avocado? They’re all delicious in my book! These avocado fries leave more questions than answers, so if you’re interested in making a batch here’s one of my favorite recipes. Besides their dreamy texture, avocados are knows as the fruit of the heart. Studies have shown avocados may improve overall cholesterol levels because of their mono-unsaturated fat content. Mono-unsaturated fat helps to lower LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, which when kept in a lower range reduces your chance of a heart attack or stroke. So no matter how you eat them make sure to include avocados in your healthy snacks routine.
No woman should have to go a day with out chocolate. That, I believe firmly! Chocolate is made from the cacao bean and luckily these little gems have a lot to offer. Cacao has been studied for years on its heart-healthy benefits. Some studies found it lowered bad cholesterol while raising the good because of its levels of flavanols. Flavanols act like antioxidants because they are protective of the body and heart by helping to fight inflammation. High levels of inflammation in the body due to poor diet and lifestyle choices are the No.1 reason people develop heart disease. Is this an excuse to eat more chocolate? Yes! Here’s the catch though, it needs to be the dark stuff to get the benefits. Next time a craving comes, look for chocolate with 70% cacao or higher. That way you’re getting healthy snacks with more flavanols and less sugar.
Taking care of our hearts doesn’t have to be difficult or sacrifice taste in the process. In a world pushing us to do and be more, it’s important we slow down and take care of the bodies we have. American Heart Health month is a great reminder to do just that. Have you tried any of these healthy snacks? Let us know!