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5 Superfoods for a Healthy Heart

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5 Heart-Healthy Foods

Build these five heart-healthy foods into your daily diet for great taste - and better health.
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Soy Protein continued...

1. Pack a soy protein bar or a bag of soy nuts for a quick snack during the day.
2. Edamame (the Japanese name for green soybeans) are snacks even kids will love! Find these nutritious nuggets in the freezer section at your supermarket. Boil them, then serve warm in the pod. Pop them out of the pod to eat plain or with a low-fat dip.
3. Tofu, made of soy beans, takes on the flavor of spices and foods you cook with it. Saute cubed tofu with green and red peppers, sliced garlic, and a dash or two of curry powder. Or add tofu to soups for a healthy dose of fat-free protein.

Recipe idea: Soy milk is not just for the lactose-intolerant. Make a nutritious beverage with chocolate soy milk, a banana, and some ice for a delicious smoothie.

Oatmeal

Grandma called it roughage and we need plenty of it each day. Oatmeal is one way to get it. Oats are nourishing whole grains and a great source of vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol-lowering fiber. The FDA allows manufacturers of oats to make health claims about the grain on their products, suggesting that a diet high in oats can reduce the risk for heart disease. Research shows oats lower cholesterol levels, keep you regular, and may help prevent certain cancers.

1. A warm bowl of oatmeal fills the belly for hours with its high fiber content. Top it off with fruit (such as blueberries or strawberries) for added fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
2. Add oats whenever you bake. Substitute up to one-third of the flour with oats in pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and coffee cakes for an added dose of fiber.
3. Use oats in place of bread crumbs in dishes such as meatloaf, meatballs, or breading on poultry.

Recipe idea: Make your own crunchy granola by baking three cups of oats at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, then cool and mix in a variety of chopped dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Spinach

Popeye knew firsthand the value of eating spinach. Hands down, spinach is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom. Its rich, dark color comes from the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.

1. Keep frozen, chopped spinach in your freezer for an easy, quick addition to pizza, pasta, soups, and stews. Just defrost and squeeze the liquid from a box of chopped spinach before you toss into cooked dishes.
2. Mix fresh spinach with salad greens or alone, then top with peeled and segmented Mandarin oranges or sliced strawberries, nuts, and crumbled cheese for a satisfying and delicious salad.
3. Steam spinach, mix with garlic, a little olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon for a low-fat potato topper.

Recipe idea: Mix spinach with pine nuts and raisins, then stuff into winter squash and bake for a colorful, delicious main or side dish.

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Reviewed on December 30, 2008
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