If you're familiar with popular documentaries like Forks Over Knives and Sugar Coated, then it shouldn't come as a surprise that we Americans have a complicated relationship with food that directly affects our health, particularly when it comes to our cardiovascular systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for one in every four deaths. While these statistics are scary, the good news is that modest dietary changes can help reduce risk and improve heart health.
Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we tapped "medicinal chef" Dale Pinnock for heart-healthy recipes to start the day off right. Despite touching on nutrition, physiology, and even anatomy, Pinnock's latest book, Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart, tackles the topic of heart health in a surprisingly approachable way. Focusing on small rather than radical changes, Pinnock is all about modifying your life in a manner that's actually achievable and sustainable.
"With a few simple changes, we can guide our diet toward being cardioprotective," explains Pinnock. "This means it can support cardiovascular health, potentially prevent the damaging issues, and play a role in the management of existing cardiovascular issues." Ahead, Pinnock shares three heart-healthy breakfasts, including a delicious "breakfast salad" to add to your recipe repertoire stat.
Kippers, Boiled Egg, and Watercress Salad
"Okay, so I know having salad at breakfast may seem a bit alien. But in many parts of the world, it is the norm, and on my travels, I have become very fond of the idea. Give it a try. Break the mold. You will soon see how refreshing it is, not to mention a great opportunity to get more of the good stuff into your body."
Filled with: omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, and magnesium
1 kippered herring fillet
2 large eggs
Small bunch of watercress
1 tbsp. olive oil
For packaged kipper herrings, cook (usually boil) according to the manufacturer's directions. For a fresh kipper fillet, broil for eight to 10 minutes.
Hard-boil the eggs according to how you like them. I prefer an eight-minute egg that is still moist in the center, but whatever floats your boat. Peel them, and then slice.
Arrange the kipper and eggs on a plate, add the watercress, and sprinkle over the olive oil.
Salmon, Pea, and Asparagus Frittata
"I am a real frittata freak. They are so satisfying when you are really hungry and are a great way to throw all manner of flavor combinations together. Use precooked salmon (but not canned) from the grocery store to save time. It's easy to scale up the recipe, as we have done in the photo, to serve more people."
Filled with: omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, and has a low glycemic index
1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. peas
3 to 4 large asparagus stalks, each cut into 3 or halved lengthwise
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small cooked salmon fillet, flaked
Low-sodium salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler.
Heat the coconut oil in a small ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the peas and asparagus and sauté for four to five minutes, until the vegetables have turned a brighter green and are beginning to soften.
Add the eggs to the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes, until the edges of the egg have started to cook well but the middle is still raw. Add the salmon, low-sodium salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute.
Place under the broiler until all the egg is cooked; this should take three or four minutes max. Ready to serve.
Beet, Blackberry, Celery, and Ginger Juice
"This slightly weird-sounding combination works a treat from both a flavor perspective and also from a nutritional one."
Filled with: nitrates, flavonoids, and potassium
1 large raw beet, washed, skin left on
2 celery stalks
3 tbsp. blackberries
1 1/4-in. piece of ginger root
Run all the ingredients through a juicer.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart by Dale Pinnock, published by Quadrille.
Up next, these three healthy recipes will soothe your gut (and bloat) in 24 hours, according to the medicinal chef.