Your heart is your body’s hearth, and as such, you need to feed it every day to keep it energized. Unfortunately, the modern American diet isn’t always filled with the best, heart-healthy foods, and it can be difficult to find time throughout the day to create meals that are ideal for your cardiovascular health. So, that begs the question: How can you maintain your heart health throughout the day with snacks?
Well, we’ve gathered a list of some of the easiest, quickest snack options that you can find and create, to put good heart health within your reach, at a moment’s notice. Here are some of our favorite heart-healthy snacks:
A Handful of Unsalted Nuts
Instead of reaching for a bag of chips the next time you’re on the run and your tummy starts rumbling, you can keep a container of nuts handy. Pick up a few bags of your favorite nuts, and combine them into a trail mix that you can enjoy at any moment. Be sure to buy nuts that are unsalted (since salt reduces the heart-healthy attributes of your snack), and portion out your servings in small doses. A single handful (about 1.5 ounces) is optimal as a snack every day, since nuts are high in calories and fat (although they contain good fats). Nuts also provide plenty of calories to “fuel” your heart, and they’re packed with protein, which strengthens your ever-working muscle. Again, don’t overindulge on nuts — treat them as a good snack and a great substitute for junk food. Hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts are the best heart-healthy options.
Edamame is delicious, and it’s convenient. Edamame, or soybeans, are nutritious, they’re high in protein and fiber, and they can be prepared quickly. Buy a bag of edamame and steam the pods over the stove or in the microwave. Again, you’ll want to avoid salting your edamame, since excess salt can cause your blood pressure to rise, which can strain and damage your heart. If you’d like to add a bit of zest to your edamame, opt for pepper and a dash of lemon or lime. You’ll love the flavor, and you can get a quick, filling snack, without harming your heart health.
You really can’t go wrong with a serving of fruit. Keep apples, bananas, and kiwi — you name it — on hand. Fruits are packed with the vitamins and minerals that your body thrives on, and the natural sugars and high fiber content of fruits help to balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Strive to eat your fruits whole (as opposed to juicing) since you’ll further benefit from digesting the fiber in your fruit. You can always blend your fruits in a fruit smoothie, if you’d like, since you’ll keep that healthy fiber content. Round out your diet with a variety of fruits, from berries to apricots, and cantaloupe to oranges.
Non-fat yogurt is another great dietary supplement to keep you going throughout your day to day. Since yogurt has high protein content and low cholesterol, you’re heart will enjoy this snack as much as your stomach. Plus, yogurt contains a flurry of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and much more, so your whole body will be thankful for the boost. And, best of all, yogurt contains live cultures of probiotic bacteria which help us to digest our food, and to promote nutrient uptake into the body from the digestive tract. Non-fat yogurt really is a superfood! Just be sure to avoid fatty yogurts, and look for options with little to no sugar — especially processed sugars like corn syrup — since these ingredients can be detrimental to your health.
Oatmeal is quick, tasty, and great for your heart. The high fiber content in oats helps to lower your body’s cholesterol, which means less strain and smooth pumping for your heart. Cook your oats with water and skim milk, and add a bit of vanilla and cinnamon for flavor. Or try saturated oats with berries and non-fat yogurt for a delicious snack.
Mix & Match
Now that you know some of the best snack foods for your heart, it’s time to get creative. You can combine any of the aforementioned foods to create a powerful, healthy, delicious snack. Here are a few ideas that you can try out:
- The ultimate smoothie: If you have a blender, and a few ingredients, the options here are endless. Create a smoothie with a dollop of non-fat yogurt, some frozen berries, and a banana. Or throw together a smoothie with skim milk, an apple, cinnamon, a few walnuts, and a handful of oats. You can even add spinach, kale, ginger, and other healthy ingredients that you might not otherwise get in your daily diet — and with plenty of fruit, your smoothie will taste sweet and flavorful.
- Fruits and nuts: Fruit and nuts often go hand-in-hand. Consider adding a bit of almond butter to sliced apples for a sweet, yet filling snack. Or add a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter to top off that banana that you enjoy every morning. You can even combine dried fruits and a small handful of nuts to create a trail mix to enjoy at any time of the day. Combine any of your favorite fruits with your favorite nuts or nut-spread for a quick, healthy snack.
- A healthy “parfait”: Layer yogurt, fruit, and oats for a breakfasty snack that you can have anytime, even dinner time. Add nuts if you’d like, and add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and other flavors to give the taste a boost. You can prep your healthy parfait in a bottle with a wide cap in the morning, then take it to work to enjoy at any point throughout your routine.
Keep Your Heart Healthy With VPMC
Here at Virginia Premium Medical Care, we care about your heart health. You can always count on us for cardiac evaluations, among our other health care services. We’re here to keep you healthy! We hope you’ve enjoyed our tips for the day — happy snacking!