February 2013: Happy Heart Awareness Month

Yes, this month is the time we celebrate Valentine’s Day; but did you know it is also the official American Heart Awareness Month?  This month, I will share with you the top 10 (actually 11) heart healthy foods, thanks to the wonderful contributions of Juliette Britton, RD and her blog Wholesome Heart on Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange.  For each of the top foods, we will provide recipe links that will inspire you and get you cooking some amazing healthy meals in the kitchen.  Here are the top foods* —  stay tuned for great recipe ideas in each category:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Salmon
  3. Avocado
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Nuts
  6. Berries
  7. Legumes
  8. Spinach
  9. Flaxseed
  10. Soy
  11. Chocolate**

*Source:  Health Magazine “10 Best Foods for your Heart”
**Source:  Juliette (thank you Juliette for adding chocolate!)

Healthy Heart Food #1:  Oatmeal.  Don’t miss this recipe, OMG!  Oatmeal Morning Goodness! from Juliette.  But wait, you don’t like to cook your oats?  Did you know you can simply soak your oats overnight?  See this post from Heather Sullivan’s Green and Plenty blog on Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange:  Milk Soaked Steel Cut Oats.
Healthy Heart Food #2:  Salmon.  How are you going to choose?  There is Easy Fish Dinner, but Juliette’s Sweet and Savory Salmon is sooo good. You decide, or rotate!
Healthy Heart Food #3:  Avocado.  The Corn Avocado and Tomato Salad from my mom’s friend Sue is absolutely delicious.  Also, Nurture’s Southwestern Salad is one of my favorite recipes of all time (thank you, Julia).
Healthy Heart Food #4:  Olive Oil.  How about a few new ideas for home-made salad dressings, since olive oil is typically the key ingredient I reach for first when making a salad dressing.
Healthy Heart Food #5:  Nuts.  Juliette suggests a delicious Almond Pesto, which you can then turn into an amazing Pesto Coleslaw by adding hummus and mixing into a bag of pre-packaged coleslaw.  Easy and healthy! Also, since it is “ski-season”, you can often find me with my Fruit and Nut Clusters in my pocket to fuel me throughout my active days. Another version of these includes Healthy Heart Food #11 (chocolate), and I call this Mountain Food.
Healthy Heart Food #6:  Berries.  Here is Juliette’s recipe for a Berry Smoothie.
Healthy Heart Food #7: Legumes.  Juliette shares a recipe for Vegan Tacos and talks about her participation in a 7-day Oprah (Vegan) Challenge. Also, for a kid-tested recipe, see Laura’s Backyard Salsa and Chicken/Black Bean Tortillas, which won the Healthy Kids Lunchtime Challenge as the top recipe from Vermont.
Healthy Heart Food #8: Spinach.  Juliette started everyone on a roll when she posted this recipe for a spinach smoothie she called Green Machine.  I later re-created the recipe several times for my Spring Green Drink.  If it is too cold for having your spinach raw this (winter) time of year, the easy and comfort-food Spinach Dip might be a good bet.
Healthy Heart Food #9: Flaxseed.  Try this great recipe, Community School Crunch created by Chef KB Bigelow of “KB’s” restaurant in Hailey, Idaho. Thank you KB!
Healthy Heart Food  #10: Soy. Go looking for some non-GMO edamame and have fun with the easy Not Your Mama’s Edamame recipe from Nurture.
Healthy Heart Food #11: Chocolate!  I loved that Juliette added this to the list; and you will absolutely enjoy coming home from a wonderful day in the cold/snow to a warm slow-cooker full of delicious Hot Chocolate.

Have fun cooking!  Thanks so much for reading!  Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!



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Don’t forget to check out the recent posts on the Delicious and Nutritious, Green and Plenty and Wholesome Heart Blogs!

Delicious and Nutritious recipes are kid tested and range from breakfast to snacks.  We occasionally include a dessert as well –which we know is probably more delicious than it is nutritious, but we feel that people need a sweet treat here and there.  We hope you are inspired by our ideas!

Green and Plenty:  presents the latest in nutrition, delicious and seasonal recipes, green design and wellness tips for the reader and her family.

Wholesome Heart:  includes delicious recipes, time-saving tips, and nutrition tidbits.


This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.



  1. kathryn says:

    Thank you to Bonnie and Steve at Nutritional Concepts for this wonderful detailed information about four heart healthy foods (and for adding broccoli to the list):
    The avocado fruit contains one of the highest nutrient profiles of any food on earth. Aside from its healthy fat content, including heart-healthy phytosterols, avocado provides potent amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamins C, B5, B6, and folate, and spectacular carotenoid content. Avocado unsaponifiables are used for arthritis. A recent study in FASEB Journal found that eating avocado with meals increase leptin, which positively affects hunger and cravings.

    Over 300 studies have shown that broccoli’s phytochemical sulforaphane causes cancer cell death. Recently, a PLoS One study showed how broccoli starves leukemia cells in vivo. A Clinical Cancer Research study showed how broccoli targets breast cancer cells. Finally, a Clinical Epigenetics study explained that the secret to why broccoli eliminates cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone may be that it functions epigenetically. Our genes work harmoniously with broccoli. Our genes understand that broccoli is around to help, not harm. This trust can only be gained over thousands of years.

    Olive Oil
    Aside from being the most important food of the most important diet for heart health, the Mediterranean Diet, a recent PLoS One study found that participants who ate two teaspoons of olive oil daily showed less sun-related aging than those who did not.

    Wild Salmon
    A study published this week in Archives of Internal Medicine stated that as little as 4 ounces of salmon eaten weekly could extend your life by 2.2 years. Study subjects with the highest levels of omega-3 (which salmon is rich in) were 27% less likely to die than those with the lowest levels.

  2. kathryn says:

    More interesting news from Bonnie and Steve Minsky of Nutritional Concepts, this time about cocoa:
    A new multinational study from the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry shows that cocoa polyphenols trigger neuroprotection by activating BDNF survival pathway, counteracting neuronal death. The findings have important implications for prevention of cognitive impairment in elderly and counteracting neurodegenerative disease progression. The study indicates for the first time that cocoa polyphenols do not act merely as an antioxidant.

    Moreover, the authors suggest that understanding the preventive potential and mechanism of action of functional foods such as cocoa may provide a means to limit cognitive impairment progression in the future.

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