Though many of us are careful to plan healthy meals, when it comes to snacks we often end up grabbing something on the fly. We’re controlled by cravings, what’s readily available, and the time constraints of our busy day. The trick is to surround yourself with heart-healthy snacks so that all your options are good ones.
Keep some of these simple items on hand for more thoughtful snacking:
- Nuts: almonds and walnuts are especially heart friendly
- Portable vegetables: grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, carrots
- Fruits: blueberries, strawberries, oranges, cut-up cantaloupe or papaya
Try these yummy combinations:
- Guacamole with red pepper strips
- Slices of turkey and avocado wrapped with romaine lettuce
- Small banana with almond butter
- Nonfat yogurt with choice of berries—blend then freeze
Or these five simple recipes for delicious snacks that will make your heart happy:
Healthy Chocolate “Pudding”
Cocoa contains flavanols that contribute to vascular health. Greek yogurt is free of saturated fat and cholesterol. Strawberries are a superfruit thought to reduce heart attack risk.
- 6-ounce nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 strawberries, sliced
- A few semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1. Put yogurt in a bowl and add cocoa powder. Stir slowly to incorporate.
2. Top with berries and chocolate chips if using. Enjoy.
Nutritionist Tip: JoEllen Kaufman says, “Make sure the cocoa has not been Dutch-processed or made with alkali. Ghirardelli makes a good one.”
Avocado Toast with Walnut Pesto
Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats—like those found in avocados—is more effective in reducing heart disease than simply lowering fat intake. Snacking on walnuts can help lower your LDL (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol level. Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have heart-healthy effects.
- 5 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
For avocado toast:
- 1 slice flaxseed bread
- 1/4 small avocado
- Lemon wedge
1. Grind the walnuts and salt in a blender. Add the basil, olive oil and garlic and blend again. Stir.
2. Store leftover pesto in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for use.
3. Toast flaxseed bread and spread with avocado while still warm.
4. Spread thin layer of pesto on top of avocado. Squeeze lemon juice onto avocado toast. Enjoy.
Spinach contains lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber—all keys to heart health. Feta is lower in calories than many other types of cheese.
- 1 whole-wheat tortilla
- 3/4 cup fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 tablespoon kalamata olives, sliced
1. Heat nonstick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Add tortilla then layer spinach, feta and olives over entire surface of tortilla.
2. Allow tortilla and toppings to heat for 4 minutes. Flip one half of the tortilla over onto the other half and press with a spatula. Cook for 3 more minutes.
3. Remove quesadilla from heat and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before slicing and serving.
Tip: Make this into a light lunch by adding some grilled onions and shredded chicken to the quesadilla and topping with chopped tomatoes.
Tomato Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Regularly eating tomatoes, which are naturally rich in lycopene, has been found to have a powerful positive effect on the heart. Mushrooms are high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped and toasted walnuts
- 1-2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
- 4-5 raw or jarred marinated mushrooms
- 1 green onion, sliced
- Splash red wine vinegar
- Splash extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine tomatoes, walnuts, goat cheese, mushrooms and onion in a bowl.
2. Add splashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste. Toss, then serve.
Deviled Egg Whites with Hummus
The garbanzo beans in hummus are high in fiber and have recently been associated with blood sugar-related health benefits. Egg whites are a good source of protein and potassium.
- Eggs, hard-boiled (boil half a dozen and keep them in the refrigerator for handy snacking)
- 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2-3 tablespoons of bean liquid
- Splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1. Peel an egg, slice it in half lengthwise, and discard the yolk.
2. Fill the leftover dent with a dollop of hummus and enjoy.
3. Store leftover hummus in refrigerator.