Home > Blog

4 Perfect Breakfast Foods for a Healthy Heart

Skipping breakfast has been identified as one of the major contributing factors to both obesity and high blood pressure. According to a recent study, men who skip breakfast are more prone to suffer from heart disease.

CBS News quoted Dr. Leah E. Cahill, a postdoctoral research fellow in the nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts as saying, “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.

The study found that the risk of developing a heart attack or dying from heart disease in men who had skipped their breakfast was 27% more than the men who ate breakfast regularly.

This study reinforces the importance of consuming breakfast for heart health. What are the best breakfast foods to prevent hypertension? Here are four of the best morning choices for a healthy heart.

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a rich source of fiber (and especially cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber) that helps you feel fuller for hours, curbing your appetite to help you avoid the donut cart. Oatmeal also contains a powerful plant chemical called ‘Lignan’ known to prevent heart disease.

Iron, magnesium and Vitamin B are among other vital nutrients housed in every bite of oatmeal–that help you keep your heart healthy.

2. Bananas

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and are practically sodium-free. For its health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends American eat bananas to help lower blood pressure and provide protection against heart attack and stroke. Bananas are also rich in antioxidants that prevent chronic disease.

3. Berries

Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries or other kinds; berries in any form add taste and health to your breakfast. Powered with vitamins and anti-oxidants, you can mix them with whole grain cereal, low-fat yogurt or even toss them in your pancakes for a deliciously healthy start to your day.

4. Egg Whites

Eggs supply a high dose of a complete protein for incredibly few calories–that makes it an ideal breakfast food. The protein makes you feel fuller for a longer time period helping control your urge to eat more thereby helping to limit calorie intake.

Heart Healthy Recipe

Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring. You can prepare unusual heart healthy recipes tapping into those superfoods. Check out a delicious one from Dr. Janet’s kitchen, Frozen Yogurt Cherry Banana Oat Bars.

Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks–Without Prescription Drugs

The Blood Pressure Down book offers all the information on foods that can help lower blood pressure such as bananas, soy, fruits and vegetables.

Blood Pressure DownThe Blood Pressure Down plan is both thorough and accessible. It includes:

•    Convenient checklists
•    Charts
•    Meal plans
•    Over fifty delicious heart-healthy recipes

Mediterranean Recipe of Roasted Tomato Walnut Pesto Salmon

Heart Healthy Recipe of Roasted Tomato Walnut Pesto Salmon

Roasted tomato walnut pesto salmon is delicious and high in omega-3 fatty acids

Can you name that food?

Sea food with high protein content, low in saturated fat, and high in omega-3 fatty acids.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming two servings of seafood per week (fish or shellfish, 4 oz/serving), especially seafood higher in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna (fresh or canned), and mackerel. Omega-3 fatty acids prevent blood clotting, build cell membranes, decrease inflammation, and have been proven to help prevent heart disease.

So make it a goal this week to eat your omega-3 fatty acids from FISH. Start by making a simple Mediterranean-style heart-healthy salmon dish, packed with multiple artery-healing ingredients—which happens to be this week’s featured recipe, Roasted Tomato Pesto Salmon.

Here is the heart-healthy recipe of Roasted Tomato Walnut Pesto Salmon:


Yield: 2 servings (1 serving = 4 oz fillet)

  • 2-4 oz salmon fillets
  • 2 Tablespoons of walnut pesto
  • 2-3 slices of tomato
  • 1 tsp of dried basil (or fresh minced basil)
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper

Heart Healthy Walnut Pesto:

  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves


Pre-heat oven to 400 º F. Grease a tin pan with olive oil spray. Place all pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend pesto until a spreadable consistency. Place salmon fillets in the pan and cover each fillet with 1 Tablespoons of pesto. Top salmon with tomato slices and sprinkle with dried basil and black pepper. Bake salmon until opaque in the center, about 20-25 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving:

Calories: 273 kcal, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Fat: 15 g, Cholesterol: 81 mg, Protein 30 g, Sodium: 67 mg

Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberry: An Ingredient of Mediterranean Recipes

Cranberry: Heart Healthy Food

Cranberry is a low, creeping shrub that grows up to 2 meters in length and 5 to 20 centimeters in height. A prominent crop in Canadian provinces and American states, this shrub bears berries characterized by a deep red color when fully ripe. The fruit is edible with a typical acidic taste that can often overwhelm its sweetness.

A number of nutritionists and health care professionals recommend cranberries as a heart healthy food, particularly for the plethora of antioxidants present in it.

The Cranberry Institute quotes Joe Vinson, Ph.D., research chemist at the University of Scranton as saying, “Cranberries contained the most antioxidant phenols compared to 19 commonly eaten fruits. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and should be eaten more often.”

It offers a lot of other health benefits including:

Heart Healthy Food

Cranberries help maintain a healthy heart in many different ways.  They help to keep “bad” cholesterol levels in check and help prevent arterial clogging. It also decreases the risk of atherosclerosis, (clogging of the arteries) by preventing the formation of plaque on the arterial walls.

In the same manner, the consumption of this deep red berry diminishes the chances of stroke in healthy individuals while in those who have already suffered a stroke, cranberries can help the arteries to heal.

Weight Loss Food

The high content of antioxidants in cranberries can help regulate your metabolism and ensure the normal functioning of the digestive system which in turn helps you lose weight faster.

Strengthens the Immune System

The main role of antioxidants is to fight harmful toxins which suppress the immune system. Rich sources of antioxidants, cranberries promote immune system health thereby increasing the body’s resistance against sickness and disease.

Treats Urinary Tract Infections

The intake of cranberry juice has been shown to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Proanthocyanidins, a major constituent of cranberries, inhibit E. coli bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, which helps one avoid kidney and bladder problems.

Relieves Skin Conditions

Cranberries are also considered an effective remedy to help relieve skin problems including psoriasis, acne, dermatitis and eczema.

Cranberries can be consumed either fresh or processed such as in juice, sauces, jams, or sweetened dried cranberries.

Mediterranean Recipe of Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salad is Zero Cholesterol, Mediterranean Food

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Qrazy for Quinoa

What is all the hype about QUINOA?

You may have already heard about quinoa. But wouldn’t you like to know what makes this whole grain so special that many nutritionists elevate this food to a superfood status?

Quinoa (kēnwä) is a nutrition rich, gluten-free, whole grain filled with antioxidants, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, and a high protein content (15%). In fact, quinoa is a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all the essential amino acids—in just the right amounts—for your protein needs. Quinoa is very versatile: you can eat quinoa as an ingredient in your salad, as a starchy side dish, or you can even eat it for breakfast as a substitute for a typical  breakfast of cereal or oatmeal.

One of the benefits of eating this ancient grain is that you will feel full for a longer time after eating quinoa because it takes your digestive tract more time to breakdown the high fiber and protein content. As such, quinoa has been shown to reduce risk of diabetes.

Try this week’s delicious Quinoa Summer Salad recipe!

– See more at: http://corp.fitnesstogether.com/nutrition-together/nutrition-tips/#sthash.9Yac7T44.dpuf

Check out this zero cholesterol, Mediterranean recipe of quinoa salad:


A simple and incredibly nourishing salad and/or side dish. 


Add minced fresh basil leaves to your quinoa salad to add just a hint of summer flavor.  

Yields: 9 servings (1/3 cup per serving)


  •  1 cup of quinoa
  •   2 cups of water
  •  1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
  •  ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves, minced
  •  ¼ cup of olives, chopped (green, black, and/or kalamata)
  •   ¼ cup of balsamic vinaigrette
  •  2 tablespoons of olive oil 


In a medium pot, add quinoa and water until a boil. Reduce water to a simmer and cook the quinoa until all the water is absorb (stir quinoa every 5 minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot). Add the tomatoes, basil, olives, balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil to the cooked quinoa and mix all the ingredients together. Serve hot or cold.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories: 110 kcal, Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 3 g, Sodium:  36 mg

Eat Legumes – the heart healthy, longevity food!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is Zero Cholesterol & Heart Healthy Food

Heart Healthy Recipe of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are plant power foods that are simply bursting with nutrition. I encourage you to embrace these small life-saving plant proteins. Lentils, for example, have been part of the culinary culture of the Mediterranean diet throughout the ages. These seeds may be petite, but they are nutrition giants, loaded with the heart healthiest of ingredients including fiber, antioxidants, plant protein, vitamins, minerals, and iron — and all this for just pennies on the dollar.

Legumes’ complex carbohydrates provide long-lasting energy and plant protein, and unlike animal protein, legumes are rich in plaque fighting fiber and phytochemicals. What’s more, research suggests that eating a daily serving of legumes might just be the dietary secret to longevity. Chick peas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) definitely count as a legume. Chickpeas are the foundation for hummus—so versatile—this is the perfect season to use hummus for dipping veggies at your outdoor BBQ or as a sandwich spread.

Check out this zero cholesterol, heart healthy recipe of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

 Dr. Janet’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Use either jarred, or roast your own red peppers for this tasty dip or sandwich spread. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours for the best flavor.

  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large basil leaves, chopped

In a blender or food processor mix the red pepper strips, chickpeas, water, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and basil until smooth.

Serves 10


Per 1/4 cup:

  • Calories: 141
  • Fat: 10 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, < 1 g ALA)
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 243 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 11 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugars: < 1 g
  • Protein: 4g

Recipe excerpt from Dr. Janet’s book: Prevent a Second Heart Attack


Mediterranean Diet Prevents Cancer Cells’ Growth – Study

There is no denying the fact that Mediterranean diet full of plant based foods helps in preventing various diseases. After all, the food you eat has a direct impact on your health.

A recent study led by Ohio State University researchers found that a compound in certain plant-based foods, known as apigenin, could stop breast cancer cells.

“We see here that the beneficial effect on health is attributed to this dietary nutrient affecting many proteins. In its relationship with a set of specific proteins, apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy,” said Andrea Doseff, associate professor of internal medicine and molecular genetics at Ohio State, who co-authored the study.

Here are the excerpts from the article published in Science Daily:

“New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells’ “superpower” to escape death.”

“Much of what is known about the health benefits of nutrients is based on epidemiological studies that show strong positive relationships between eating specific foods and better health outcomes, especially reduced heart disease…. Parsley, celery and chamomile tea are the most common sources of apigenin, but it is found in many fruits and vegetables.”

Read the rest of the article here: Science Daily

Check out some of the heart healthy Mediterranean recipes here.

Eat Heart Healthy Red Beans: Ranked #1 on the Antioxidant Scale

Herbed Red Beans and Brown Rice

Red Beans are powerful disease-fighting antioxidant food

Who knew? Sometimes you find powerful disease-fighting antioxidant riches in foods you least expect. One of these foods is red beans. Red beans ranked number 1 out of the top 100 foods in terms of total antioxidant capacity per serving-beating out blueberries-which ranked number 2.

Beans are also an incredibly heart-healthy source of fiber, complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, and plant protein, with zero cholesterol and negligible fat content. And all this amazing nutrition for just pennies on the dollar that also helps you prevent heart disease.

Herbed Red Beans and Brown Rice

A tea bag steeped in the cooking liquid adds a beautiful brown hue to the rice. Check out this heart-healthy recipe:

  • 1 ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1 regular-size black tea bag
  • ¾ cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • One 16-ounce can red beans or kidney beans with their juice (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion

In a medium saucepan bring chicken broth or water to a boil over medium heat. Add tea bag and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove tea bag and stir in rice. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add beans, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until sauce is thickened. Stir in parsley and chopped scallion and serve over hot brown rice. Top with fat-free sour cream if desired.

Note: to cut the sodium content of this dish, use a can of low-sodium beans.

Serves 4


Per 1/2 cup beans and 1 1/3 cups cooked rice

  • Calories: 342
  • Fat: 11 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, <1 g ALA)
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Cholesterol: 6 mg
  • Sodium: 651 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 50 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 7 g
  • Sugars: 2 g
  • Protein: 13 g

Nutrition Tip Of The Week: Breakfast Most Important Meal Of The Day

Mom was right! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it increases your metabolism, helps you management your weight, refuels your blood sugar and replenishes your glycogen stores after an 8-12 hour overnight fast, and kick starts your energy level to make you more alert for the rest of the day.

Start your day refreshed and satisfied by drinking a complete smoothie with a serving of vegetables, fruit, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein. Smoothies are a great grab-n-go breakfast that you can easily prepare in less than 5 minutes and drink on the way to work!

Go Green Breakfast Smoothies

Spinach, a dark leafy green, is filled with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, folate, iron, and dietary fiber

Go Green Breakfast Smoothies


Spinach, a dark leafy green, is filled with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, folate, iron, and dietary fiber, which can be added and hidden in your basic morning smoothie to count as one of your vegetable servings for the day!


Yields: 1 (16 ounces)

    • 2 cups of fresh spinach (2 handfuls)
    • ½ medium banana (fresh or frozen)
    • 1 cup of fruit (fresh or frozen): 1 cup of mixed berries (berry smoothie) OR 1 cup of peaches, pineapple, and/or mango (tropical smoothie)
    • ½ cup of 0% plain greek yogurt
    • 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed
    • ½ cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other low calorie milk/liquid substitute)

Optional Extras: non-nutritive sweetener (stevia), unsweetened cocoa powder, protein powder, and/or chia seeds


Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend until the smoothie reaches the consistency desired. Add ice to make the smoothie thicker. Add water to make the smoothie thinner. Pour smoothie into a cup and enjoy your complete smoothie!

Nutrient Information Per Serving:

Berry Smoothie =

  • Calories: 232,
  • Fat: 2 g,
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg,
  • Carbohydrate: 40 g,
  • Dietary Fiber: 5 g,
  • Protein: 16 g,
  • Sodium: 181 mg

Tropical Smoothie =

  • Calories: 258,
  • Fat: 3 g,
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg,
  • Carbohydrate: 44 g,
  • Dietary Fiber: 8 g,
  • Protein: 16 g,
  • Sodium: 181 mg


What’s a good substitute for butter in Holiday recipes?

Q: Many of my holiday recipes call for butter. What’s a good substitute?

A: I like to use the tub margarines with added plant sterols such as Benecol or Promise Take Control. I also like the “light” versions that give you all the flavor with half the calories. These margarines are a nice substitute for butter not only because they have only a fraction of the artery-clogging saturated fat, and are trans fat free, but also because they give you a dose of plant sterols—the natural plant derivative that is safe and effective for lowering your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Here is a mashed potato recipe for a delicious and truly heart-healthy holiday side dish taken from my book, Cholesterol DOWN:

Mashed Potatoes with Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: approximately 1 cup)

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup light soy milk
  • ½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Promise Take Control Light Margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Commercial gravy, optional

Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and return potatoes to pan. Add in chick peas and mash using a potato masher. Add in soy milk, chicken broth, margarine and seasonings, and stir. Cook an additional 2 minutes until heated, stirring constantly. Serve warm. Top with commercial gravy if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (approximately 1 cup):
Calories: 255, Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 751 mg,
Carbohydrates: 46 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 7 g

Recipe from: Cholesterol DOWN: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks—Without Prescription Drugs by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN.
Published by Three Rivers Press, December 2006