Love Your Heart with This Dinner

Sometimes it seems like everything we hear about eating right is what not to eat. But a heart-healthy diet is about more than the don’ts. Our American Heart Month gift to you: a complete dinner—from appetizer to dessert—that lets you eat to your heart’s content. We’ll also give you the scoop on heart-smart ingredients, so you can look for them in other recipes.

A Heart-Smart Starter
This White Bean and Olive Bruschetta is elegant, appetizing, and full of superstar ingredients for your heart. Tomatoes are a top source of lycopene, a heart-protective antioxidant. Olive oil and olives provide monounsaturated fat that may reduce the risk of heart disease. Garlic may help reduce plaque buildup and blood pressure in people with hypertension. And beans supply soluble fiber, which may help lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels.

In a medium bowl, combine:

  • ½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir vigorously until the tomatoes release their juice. Add:

  • 1¼ cup white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ⅛ cup whole parsley leaves
  • 6 kalamata olives, sliced

Toast or grill 2 slices of crusty whole grain bread until lightly brown and crisp. Top each with a quarter of the bean mixture and any juices. Cut in half and serve. Refrigerate remaining bruschetta for another night.

The Healthy Main Course
Salmon serves up omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation and lower triglycerides. This Mustard-Glazed Salmon recipe makes it simple to prepare, and delicious to enjoy.

Heat oven to 400°F. In a small dish, combine:

  • 1⅓ tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ⅓ tablespoon grainy mustard
  • ⅓ tablespoon chopped dill
  • ¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

Put two 4-ounce, center-cut salmon fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, and spread mayonnaise mixture over the top of the fillets. Roast until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve with a fresh spinach salad topped with vinaigrette and toasted nuts. The folate in spinach counteracts a chemical called homocysteine, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. And nuts are another source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

Want to toast with a glass of wine? Compounds in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels and reduce the risk of unwanted clotting. But stick to just one glass—more may increase the risk of breast cancer in women, and chronic heavy drinking can damage the heart.

A Dessert You Can Feel Good About
What’s dreamier than chocolate fondue? Made the smart way, it may also help your heart. That’s because dark chocolate is rich in compounds called flavonols, which improve blood vessel flexibility. Use unsweetened baking chocolate with fat-free evaporated milk. It feels like cream in your mouth and contains nearly twice as much calcium as regular fat-free milk.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine:

  • 6 tablespoons fat-free evaporated milk
  • 2 ounces chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Heat for about 2 minutes, or until steaming. Remove from heat, then add:

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A dash of cinnamon

Stir until smooth.

For sweet and healthful dippers, serve strawberries, pineapple chunks, or clementine wedges. If you like, pair your dessert with coffee. When researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center analyzed a number of previous coffee studies, they found that drinking about two servings of coffee a day reduced the risk of heart failure by 11 percent.