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17 Heart-Healthy Recipes That Actually Taste Great

Keeping your heart healthy and eating delicious things should not be mutually exclusive.

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Approximately 71 million Americans (more than 20%) have high cholesterol. Your diet is very important if you're trying to lower yours. Follow these heart-healthy guidelines:

Eat whole grains and beans. They're high in soluble fiber, which basically binds to the cholesterol you eat so that it passes out of your body instead of sticking around to clog up your arteries.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and veggies contain lots of soluble fiber, while others contain more insoluble fiber (which is also good for you but doesn't affect cholesterol). Eat a variety of fruits and veggies so you get plenty of both kinds of fiber.

Eat vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. The monounsaturated fats in these foods can lower your LDL cholesterol, aka bad cholesterol. Walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all good choices.

Eat fatty fish, nuts, and avocado. "Omega-3 fatty acids may help raise HDL cholesterol, which is your good cholesterol," says Keri Gans, a New York-based registered dietitian and the author of The Small Change Diet. Salmon is great for Omega-3s, but so are lots of other fish like trout, mackerel, and sardines.

Limit fatty animal products, such as whole milk, processed meats, and high-fat cuts of red meat. Saturated fat, present in all those foods, has long been considered a major threat to heart health because it can raise the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Recent research questions that wisdom, but Gans says she still follows American Heart Association guidelines. "I still advise my patients to limit saturated fats," she told BuzzFeed. Play it safe by keeping plenty of variety in your diet and not relying solely on animal-based foods for your protein.

2. Apple and Chicken Egg White Omelet

When you're looking for a savory breakfast, make an egg white omelet. (All of the cholesterol in eggs is found in the yolk.) This one is full heart-healthy nuts, apples, and collard greens, so you won't miss the cheese. Just swap out the coconut oil for olive oil — coconut oil is high in saturated fat and "the verdict is still out" on its health impact, says Gans. Recipe here.


5. Edamame Power Salad

While soy can reduce LDL levels, the effect is relatively modest. But it's still a great protein replacement for other, less healthy foods. The chickpeas and apples in the salad are great for fiber and the olive oil and avocado-based dressing makes a delicious alternative to a mayo-based option. Recipe here.


7. Farro Salad with Oven-Roasted Grapes and Autumn Greens|/275164/grape-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|284931

If you haven't tried farro yet, consider this your formal invitation. Its nutty flavor and chewy texture makes it a great, fiber-filled whole grain alternative to boring old brown rice. Grapes are also an excellent source of soluble fiber, so pile this salad onto your plate and enjoy. Recipe here.

9. Trout Salad with Citrus and Radishes

If you're bored of salmon, try trout. It's got plenty of Omega-3s, too, and this salad combines it with almonds and oranges, another great source of that soluble fiber we won't shut up about. (And feel free to take a bigger portion than the very dainty one shown in the picture!) Recipe here.


11. Almond-Crusted Chicken Strips

Try these next time you're craving fried chicken. You'll get health points for staying away from the deep fryer, and for adding in almonds, which may lower your LDL. Plus, using just the whites of the eggs means you don't get any of their cholesterol. Recipe here. (For an extra heart-health boost, try this similar recipe, made with salmon.)

12. Roasted Vegetable Salad with Garlic Dressing + Toasted Pepitas

All those vegetables means tons of fiber, and the pumpkin seeds are full of the LDL-lowering compound phytosterol, as well as magnesium, an essential nutrient for your body's nerves, muscles, bones, and blood. Recipe here.


15. Thai Basil Eggplant

The eggplant is a great source of soluble fiber, and the tofu in this dish is a healthy protein. Serve it over brown rice for maximum health impact. (And make sure not to use more than one tablespoon of olive oil per serving.) Recipe here.

17. Dark Chocolate Brown Rice Pudding

Made with brown rice and almond milk, this yummy dessert has both whole grains and monounsaturated fats. But because it's, you know, a dessert, there's also a fair amout of sugar from the maple syrup, so treat yourself to (just) a single serving. Recipe here.

Focusing on specific foods to control your cholesterol is smart, but it's not everything. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly are also important, Gans says. And everyone's different, so speak to your doctor about what's best for you.