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11 Ideas for Heart-Smart Meals

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Combine ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Serve 3/4of a cup with 15 corn tortilla chips, or spoon the salsa into a wheat tortilla for a simple lunch taco.

Benefits: The beans and veggies here provide a hefty dose of fiber. Beans help lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

6. Sardine Spread: Beneficial Bread-Topper

A tin of sardines, 3 ounces, packed in spring water
1 heaping teaspoon each of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard
Whole wheat bread or crackers

Drain sardines and mash them thoroughly with a fork. Combine with mayo and mustard. Boost flavor and nutrition with optional add-ins, such as chopped parsley, capers, or lime juice. Serve spread on whole-grain crackers or bread.

Benefits: Sardines brim with omega-3 fats, which help fight the inflammation that harms heart and blood vessels. The crackers and bread provide whole grains, which boost your fiber.

7. Chicken Chili: Quick Comfort

Chicken tenders, 1 pound, chopped into bite-sized pieces
A jar of green chili or roasted garlic salsa
A can of black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
A can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
Frozen corn, 2 cups

Lightly brown the chicken tenders in olive oil in a large pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Season with your favorite spices, such as chili powder, cumin, or cayenne pepper (if you like it hot). Serve a cup for dinner, and eat the leftovers for lunch.

Benefits: Chicken tenders are very low in saturated fat. The beans and corn offer plenty of fiber, including soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol. The tomatoes and salsa also provide antioxidants like lycopene, which helps protect your heart.

8. Turkey Burger: Better Than Fast Food

Lean ground turkey, 4 ounces per person
A dollop of tomato sauce
Whole wheat buns, 1 per person
Onions, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce on the side

Combine the turkey and tomato sauce. Mix in a few shakes of a salt-free seasoning blend, garlic powder, and pepper sauce if you like heat. Use your hands to shape the mixture into patties. Cook over medium-high heat, 5 minutes a side. Serve topped with onions, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce on a whole-grain bun.

Benefits: Choosing ground turkey over ground beef can save saturated fat and calories, and a whole-grain bun is an easy way to get fiber. The veggies provide additional fiber and beneficial nutrients. Romaine is a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene, both thought to protect heart health.

9. Simple Salmon: Easy and Impressive

Salmon, cut into 4-ounce portions
Brown rice
Asparagus

White wine or low-sodium chicken broth, a dash

Place salmon pieces in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add a splash of white wine or low-sodium chicken broth. Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily. Serve with brown rice (consider microwave brown rice, which cooks in a flash) and lightly steamed asparagus.

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