[title subtitle=”WORDS and IMAGES courtesy Family Features”][/title]
While heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, many of the risk factors associated with the condition can be controlled with dietary and lifestyle changes. By centering your meals on better-for-you ingredients and recipes, you can show your heart some extra love.
Consider walnuts, which are a heart-healthy food certified by the American Heart Association. More than twenty-five years of research shows walnuts may play a key role in heart health. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved one of the first qualified health claims for a whole food, finding that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day as part of a low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet while not increasing caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Additionally, walnuts are the only nut significantly high in omega-3s, with 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid per ounce. Walnuts can add this essential nutrient to dishes like these American Heart Association Heart-Check Mark certified recipes for Greek Cucumber Walnut Bites and Banana Bread Overnight Oats. Find more information and heart-healthy recipes at walnuts.org/heart-health.
Greek Cucumber Walnut Bites
Recipe courtesy Beth Stark, RDN, LDN on behalf of the California Walnut Board
Prep time: 25 minutes
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 English cucumber, ends trimmed (about 14 ounces)
½ cup roasted red pepper hummus
½ cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Preheat oven to 350 F. On small baking sheet, arrange walnuts evenly. Bake 8 minutes, checking frequently, until toasted. Slice cucumber crosswise into 3/4-inch thick slices. Using small spoon, gently scoop out and discard center of each cucumber slice, leaving bottom and sides intact.
In small bowl, stir 6 Tablespoons chopped walnuts and hummus. Spoon walnut-hummus mixture into each cucumber slice and top with reserved chopped walnuts, feta cheese and quartered tomatoes.
Banana Bread Overnight Oats
Recipe courtesy Crowded Kitchen on behalf of the California Walnut Board
Prep time: 15 minutes
3 ripe bananas, sliced
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup chopped California walnuts, divided
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 cups skim milk
In large container with lid, add sliced bananas. Use potato masher or fork to mash bananas until smooth. Add oats, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, half of the chopped walnuts, maple syrup and milk. Combine thoroughly and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, divide among four canning jars or glass containers with lids. Top each with remaining walnuts before serving.