Your nutrition has a huge role to play in cardiovascular health and a heart-healthy diet starts with a heart-healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast is a big risk factor for heart disease and other heart problems so if this is your norm, it’s putting extra pressure on your heart and health.
According to research, a heart-healthy breakfast reduces the risk of heart disease and can be a key element in heart attack prevention. Breakfast is a crucial chance to consume food good for the heart, reduce the potential for snacking and keep blood sugar stable.
But not every breakfast will do this unless it’s specifically designed to be heart-healthy.
What counts as a heart-healthy diet?
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains are staples of a heart-healthy diet. Whole grains can include oats, whole grain bread, barley, buckwheat, millet, spelt, quinoa and brown rice.
You’ll also want to get plenty of protein, fibre, healthy fats and antioxidants – all of which support heart health. From a protein perspective, this can include legumes, beans, chickpeas, fish, lean meat and poultry eggs, and nuts and seeds.
If red meat is a source of protein for you, think about limiting your intake to 1-3 meals per week. High consumption of red meat has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, especially processed meats.
Unprocessed foods are the best move for keeping blood pressure stable, reducing cholesterol levels and minimising the risk of diabetes. This includes using herbs and spices to flavour foods rather than salt.
The Heart Foundation Diet
If you’re looking for info on a heart-healthy diet, you may come across the Heart Foundation Diet. Contrary to the name, most variations of this diet aren’t heart-healthy. It’s much more of a weight loss plan (which is restrictive and unsustainable in the long-term). The plan is full of heart-healthy vegetables and fruits but it’s also high in red meat and may raise your risk of developing heart disease.
Heart-Healthy Breakfast Recipes
Need some inspiration for heart-healthy breakfasts that also taste delicious? These breakfast recipe ideas are packed with nutrients that support a healthy heart:
- Toast 1-2 slices of whole-grain bread and top it with avocado, sesame seeds and poached eggs.
- Top oatmeal with your favourite additions, such as berries, nuts and seeds.
- Chia pudding – Mix 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds with milk, stir well and put in the refrigerator overnight to thicken up. In the morning, you can add berries, nut butter and other toppings to add flavour and even more nutrition.
- Quinoa porridge – Quinoa is a highly versatile grain and it can easily be used in place of oats to form “porridge”. Cook the quinoa ahead of time and when you’re ready to eat, you can simply mix it with milk and add your choice of toppings.
- Omelette – Eggs are a great source of heart-healthy protein and fats and you can increase the nutrition factor by adding vegetables and cooking in extra virgin olive oil. Try adding vegetables such as spinach, tomato, onion, peppers and herbs for flavour and extra nutrients. Or get creative with your choices!
- Breakfast burrito – A wholegrain tortilla wrap is a great base for this breakfast burrito. Inside, you can load it with eggs, beans, salsa, avocado and herbs and spices.
- Vegetable scramble – Egg, tofu or ground meat is a delicious and nutritious protein-packed base for this scramble. Pack in the vegetables too for extra flavour – potato, mushrooms, onions and peppers work really well.
- English muffin breakfast sandwiches – English muffins may be yummy but the shop-bought varieties can be incredibly unhealthy. You can make a heart-healthy version using wholegrain English muffins, egg, tomato, greens and a little bit of sliced cheese.
- Scramble 1-2 eggs, chop up some peppers and add a dollop of salsa on the side.
- Spread hummus on wholegrain crackers and top them with cheese, chicken and tomato.
- Load up a bowl with Greek yoghurt and berries and sprinkle with nuts and seeds.
- Make a yoghurt parfait with Greek yoghurt, ground flaxseed, chopped nuts, homemade muesli and fruit.