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Good Health Recipes

3 Steps Toward a Healthier Heart

By Family Features | Contributor

All aspects of health are important, but heart health is a crucial component of overall well-being. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans but it doesn’t need to be – lifestyle choices play a key role in heart health and it’s never too soon to adopt healthful habits.  

From exercising and getting proper sleep to healthy eating – including heart-friendly snacks like grapes – consider these simple steps.

Eat Right

Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can impact heart health. 

As an easy, convenient, heart-healthy food, grapes are a perfect ingredient for a heart-friendly eating plan that includes recipes like Grape, Broccoli and Avocado Salad with Toasty Oat Topping. Savory broccoli slaw pairs with the delicate sweetness of crisp, juicy Grapes from California while the toasted oat topping provides a crunchy finish. 

Grapes are low in sodium and a good source of vitamin K, which promotes heart health, and contain 7% of the daily recommended intake of potassium, a nutrient critical to heart health. Grapes are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols and help maintain healthy circulation by promoting the relaxation of blood vessels.

In fact, according to a study published in the “Journal of Nutrition,” men with metabolic syndrome who consumed 1 1/2 cups of grapes every day showed reduced blood pressure, improved blood vessel function and a decrease in a key marker of inflammation.

Women who consumed 1 1/4 cups of grapes every day as part of a separate study published in the “Journal of Nutrition” benefited from reduced blood triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol levels, inflammatory proteins and other markers of heart disease.

Get Quality Sleep

Sleep is also critical for a healthy heart.  Most experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. To help achieve that goal, create a bedtime routine by waking up and going to sleep at consistent times. Also ensure a comfortable sleep space by turning off electronics and setting the thermostat to a cozy temperature. 

Exercise

A regular exercise routine can have a positive impact on many areas of health. It can be especially beneficial for heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and aiding in maintaining a healthy weight. At least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity is recommended by the American Heart Association.  Fuel your workout and recovery with heart-healthy and hydrating foods such as grapes. 

Find more heart-healthy recipes at GrapesFromCalifornia.com.

Grape, Broccoli and Avocado Salad with Toasty Oat Topping

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Servings: 6 

Toasted Oat Topping:

1/2       tablespoon butter

1/3       cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped

3          tablespoons steel-cut oats

1/8       teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4       teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

Dressing:

6          tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3       cup quartered red or green Grapes from California 

1/4       cup wine vinegar

1          tablespoon honey

1/4       teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad:

1          bag (12 ounces) broccoli slaw

2          cups lightly packed torn curly kale

1 1/2    cups halved Grapes from California

1/2       cup minced red onion

1/3       cup chopped dried figs

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1          large, firm but ripe avocado, diced

To make toasted oat topping: In medium skillet over medium-low heat, cook butter, almonds, oats, salt and Italian herb seasoning about 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring frequently.

To make dressing: In small blender, puree olive oil, grapes, wine vinegar, honey, sea salt and pepper, to taste, until smooth.

To make salad: In large bowl, mix broccoli slaw, kale, grapes, red onion and figs; season with pepper, to taste, and drizzle with dressing; toss well to coat. Add avocado and toss lightly. Transfer to six serving plates or bowls and sprinkle with toasted oat topping.

Nutritional information per serving: 320 calories; 5 g protein; 29 g carbohydrates; 22 g fat (62% calories from fat); 3.5 g saturated fat (10% calories from saturated fat); 5 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 7 g fiber.

Editor’s Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice.

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