Food & Nutrition

10 Heart Healthy Meals Cardiologists Cook for Themselves

Overnight oats


A great option for those who don’t have a lot of time in the morning to prepare breakfast, overnight oats offer many heart-healthy benefits. This version is from Andrew Freeman, MD, cardiologist at National Jewish Health. “Besides the antioxidants from the berries and the omega-3 fatty acids from ground flaxseed, oatmeal is loaded with fiber which can bind cholesterol in the diet, promote bowel regularity—it’s also quite satiating,” he says. “The soy milk adds a nice protein boost, and many of the spices and add-ins are loaded with antioxidants.”


1/2 cup of oats

1 teaspoon Ground flaxseed

Small handful of almonds or walnuts

Small handful of dried blueberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup soy or almond milk

1 tablespoon almond milk yogurt


1. Layer the oats, flaxseed, nuts, dried blueberries, and cinnamon in a mason jar and top with the soy or almond milk (organic or unsweetened).

2. Let it sit in the fridge overnight.

3. In the morning, top with a tablespoon of almond-milk based yogurt. Add a drizzle of maple syrup or chopped dates for sweetness.

Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara and turkey meatballs

Whole-grain-spaghettiAnna Shepulova/Shutterstock

This recipe is an ideal staple for a heart-healthy meal plan because it packs in the flavor and has more fiber and vegetables and less saturated fat and sodium than the original comfort food classic. “The main premise for eating heart healthy is to eat real food, rather than food that is processed,” says Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Health and spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Turkey meatballs are lower in fat than traditional meatballs, especially if you use white meat turkey, she explains, but because you are using low-fat turkey, you want to give the meatballs some volume. “I like to add whole wheat bread crumbs or half a cup of multigrain cereal.” You can give the marinara sauce an added heart-healthy boost by adding more vegetables, such as parsley, chopped celery, or carrots for sweetness, she says. This allows you to reap the proven benefits of the DASH Diet, which includes lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Check out these 13 foods that cardiologists try to never eat.


1 pound of extra-lean or fat-free ground turkey breast

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

fresh parsley

1/2 cup multigrain cereal (smashed) or whole wheat bread crumbs

1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti

57-ounce can of no-salt-added, low-sodium tomatoes

14-ounce can of low-sodium carrots

14.4-ounce package of frozen stir-fry peppers and onions

1 medium zucchini (chopped)

4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)

2 tablespoons of salt-free dried Italian spices


1. Mix the turkey, cereal, pepper, and fresh parsley and form into meatballs.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, mash the carrots and add the vegetables and spices, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer.

3. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Make the spaghetti according to the directions, serve with the marinara and meatballs.

Oven-fried chicken

fried-chickenfrom my point of view/Shutterstock

Fried chicken is delicious but it is loaded with fat, says Dr. Goldberg. One of her favorite heart-healthy meals, oven fried chicken, uses skinless chicken soaked in non-fat buttermilk. “The recipe calls for whole wheat flour, but sometimes I use cornflake crumbs (they are fat and cholesterol free),” she says. Unlike traditional fried chicken, which requires you to fill the frying pan partially with oil, this recipe uses spritzes of cooking spray. “For flavor, we use herbs such as black pepper and paprika, which helps us avoid salt. I pair the chicken with oven roasted potatoes coated with garlic and parsley instead of French fries and cook them at a high temperature so they get brown.”


Cooking spray

1 whole skinless chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup fat-free buttermilk

1 egg

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 large potatoes cut into 1-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place on baking sheet.

3. Whisk buttermilk and egg together in a shallow bowl.

4. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk mixture and then coat with flour, place on rack.

5. Lightly spray chicken with baking spray and bake 30 minutes, turn over and cook an additional 20 minutes.

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