Nuts are a great source of healthy unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, protein, fiber and plant sterols. Nuts and seeds are known for helping to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduce blood clotting and improve the lining of your arteries. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral known to help relax blood vessels and prevent heart attack and stroke.
Cranberries are rich in antioxidants, a potent anti-inflammatory and associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the body's healthy cholesterol. Be sure to read the ingredient labs and choose a product with cranberries only and no added sugars.
Dark chocolate provides antioxidants in the form of flavanoids which can lower blood pressure and cut risk of heart attack and stroke... not to mention chocolate's stress busting benefits! Literally, daily consumption of quality chocolate is associated with lower levels of stress hormones. Aim to choose chocolate that is 60% cocoa or higher.
Granola and chia seeds are both a great source of fiber which functions to lower cholesterol. For the granola, look for a product that contains at least 3g fiber per serving and is low in sugar! Chia seeds also are a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are a strong anti-inflammatory, contain antioxidants and protein too!
Combine the following ingredients:
1/4 c. dark chocolate chips (60% or higher)
1c. walnuts or almonds (or both!)
1/2 c. whole grain cereal or granola*
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chia seeds
1/4 c. shredded coconut (optional)
*For the 'cereal', I prefer to use whole grain cheerios, Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, KIND brand granola or granola sourced from our local natural foods store, Eats.
Simple. Delicious. Quality and fast fuel for the busy athlete, professional, on-the-go individual or really anyone!
Throw a handful of this into a container of greek yogurt for an even greater calorie and protein boost!
And don't forget a good dose of exercise helps promote heart health too :)
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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