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11 Ideas for Heart-Smart Meals

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4. Hummus: The Original Bean Dip

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 teaspoon of sesame tahini
Lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
Olive oil

Combine ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth, adjusting proportions to taste. Add a little water to thin the dip. Season with salt and pepper. Serve 1/4 cup of hummus with baby carrots.

Benefits: Chickpeas and carrots are loaded with cholesterol-busting soluble fiber. Garlic can help curb inflammation and may slow blood clotting.

5. Black Bean Salsa Taco: Fast, Fresh Flavor

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 fresh tomato, chopped
Frozen corn, 1 cup, thawed
Whole wheat tortillas, 1 per person, or 15 corn tortilla chips per person

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.

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