Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart: International Recipes for American Heart Month

close up of a bowl of greek salad with ingredients sitting on the counter beside it

February is American Heart Month. During this month, the American Heart Association conducts screenings to assess heart health and educational programs to help individuals lead healthy lifestyles.

Beyond AMH’s efforts, you can support your own heart health by eating a healthy diet throughout the month. If you’re ready for a heart-healthy challenge, International Fresh Market has a few suggested international recipes that are ‘hearty’ and delicious!

The Mediterranean diet is undoubtedly one of the best for heart health. This diet emphasizes the intake of healthy food components like fruits, fish, poultry, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. The diet provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

While there are many Mediterranean recipes to try, Greek salad is a delicious staple. The simple dish is a combination of tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, cucumber, fresh herbs, olives, and olive oil. It supports heart health by:

  • Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
  • Combating inflammation
  • Normalizing blood pressure
  • Reducing oxidative stress

Japanese cuisine is another great option for American Heart Month. This fare is based on healthy ingredients like rice, seasonal herbs, omega-3-rich seafood, and vegetables. Our favorite go-to Japanese recipe is a simple, but delicious, grilled salmon teriyaki.

This dish is perfect for beginners and expert chefs alike. Start by making a marinade of brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, chopped green onions, and low-sodium soy sauce. Afterward, coat your fresh salmon filets with the marinade and grill in olive oil.

This grilled salmon teriyaki is rich in omega-3, a healthy fatty acid that can reduce blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and improve the health of blood vessels. Omega fatty acids can also lower the risk of atherosclerosis.

Legume-based dishes, common in Indian cuisine, are another great choice for American Heart Month. These dishes nourish your body with plant-based proteins, fiber, and various essential nutrients.

One such legume-based Indian dish is  Chana Masala. The dish is prepared with chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, fresh cilantro, and lemon juice. These ingredients provide plant fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.

The mentioned nutrients help with the following:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Combating oxidative stress
  • Reducing inflammation

Middle Eastern cuisine features nutrient-rich whole grains like bulgur, quinoa, and brown rice. This cuisine also features fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients like vegetables, lean proteins, and herbs.

Of all the Middle Eastern delights, Quinoa Tabbouleh stands as the easiest to prepare. Chefs make this dishfrom quinoa, spiced up with tomatoes, red onion, parsley, cucumber, and seasonal herbs. The resulting dish is rich in fiber and proteins.

The proteins in quinoa help keep the cardiovascular system in top health. Likewise, the soluble fiber in quinoa reduces the levels of bad cholesterol.

If you enjoy a vegetarian dietdiets, Brazilian grilled vegetables are perfect for American Heart Month. As the name implies, the diet features an array of vibrant vegetables, including bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and red onions.

These fresh vegetables are rich in vitamins C, D, and K, which regulate blood pressure and prevent arterial calcification. They also contain plenty of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which support  optimal heart function.

African cuisine features plenty of plant-based ingredients like pulses and legumes  that are great for your heart’s health. In particular, the plant-based cuisine features chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas, and cowpeas.

One such African dish to try out is Moroccan lentil soup.This traditional delicacy is made from nutrient-packed lentils, tomatoes, and a blend of spices. It has loads of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and proteins.

Moroccan  lentil soup supports heart health and muscle development and lowers cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the nutrients in Moroccan lentil soup can help combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.

American Heart Month isn’t just a day for heart screenings and raising awareness. It’s also a season to substitute unhealthy foods with heart-healthy cuisines from around the world to support optimal cardiovascular health.

Explore a diverse array of recipes at International Fresh Market so you can enjoy dining while improving your heart’s health. You can also expand our list of heart-friendly dishes with your favorite cuisines. 

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International Fresh Market is a local, family-owned grocery store that serves the Chicagoland community.We are excited to serve the residents of Naperville, Aurora, Warrenville, Woodridge, Plainfield and the surrounding area!