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Heart Healthy Plant-Based Diet Can be Tasty

By Jana Nalbandian, ND

February is heart healthy month and the article “A heart-healthy diet can include flavorful foods” is the first step in jump starting a healthy diet for 2014.  Most of us know that eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits, complex grains including quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat, legumes along with lean proteins will lower blood pressure, obesity and help prevent Diabetes and heart disease.  What we don’t realize is how tasty these foods can really be after years of over sensitizing our taste buds to high salt, fat and sugary processed foods.

Let’s focus on the plant sources for adding healthy delicious foods to a heart healthy diet.  Fiber in fruits, vegetables, mucilage containing grains and seeds along with legumes is the best way to help manage high cholesterol outside of removing saturated fats from diet.  We should be eating at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.  Fiber, specifically soluble fiber binds with cholesterol in the digestive track and helps remove excess cholesterol out through the bowels.  Along with binding cholesterol, fiber slows down digestion; helps with satiety and the rapid release of sugar into the system.  The problem is most people do not know how to prepare these foods or only think of Cheerio’s and oatmeal as the only fiber source, thanks to a high profile marketing campaign.  Instead of processed cereal try my Muesli recipe of rolled grains (2 c), oat bran (1 c), ground flax (1/2 c), lecithin (1/2c), walnuts or almonds chopped (1/4 c), you can add dried fruit, seeds or chia seeds if desired.  A half a cup of this cereal soaked overnight in water, add fresh fruit and your favorite “milk” beverage and you will have eaten a third of your fiber for the day.    This is great with fresh apples and cinnamon!

High saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and salted foods can be damaging on so many levels including the vascular system and the heart.  Removing hydrogenated oil completely from diet is a must along with removing processed foods from diet that contains high sodium (sodium chloride, sodium benzoate, msg and etc.).  Switch to unprocessed sea salts, they are many flavorful salts to try along with herbs and spices to create great tasting foods.  Refined, purified table salt contains almost pure sodium chloride.  Sea salt, on the other hand, contains only about 85 percent sodium chloride by weight with other minerals, including magnesium and calcium that make up the remainder.

Try one of the recipes in this article; they are all delicious with plenty of fiber, protein and fun ways to add vegetables to the diet.  Go for the Super Raspberry Protein Brownies with added black beans for protein and instead of wheat flour try almond flour instead for a wonderfully rich chocolate brownie.  Bon Appétit!


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