Leafy greens such as kale, broccoli and spinach are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They’re rich in carotenoids, specifically, lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries and helps lower your risk of heart disease. These nutrient-dense vegetables are also high in nitrates, which relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure, as well as phytochemicals, which lower inflammation and preserve artery health. So, if you want to improve your heart health, here are delicious leafy green recipes you can add to your diet.
EXPERIENCE THE BENEFITS OF LEAFY GREENS RECIPES FOR YOURSELF
1. WHOLE-GRAIN SPAGHETTI WITH KALE AND TOMATOES
Start the journey to a healthy heart with this whole-grain spaghetti with kale and tomatoes. As the first of our delicious leafy greens recipes for a healthy heart, this delicious 413-calorie pasta dish features kale.
It’s a superfood packed with fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium — all of which improve heart health. You’re also able to double up protection with tomatoes added to the mix. They’re packed with lycopene, which reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- 170g whole-grain spaghetti
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 cups kale, destemmed and cut into small pieces
- 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup roasted almonds, chopped
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. When al dente, drain the pasta water but reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
- Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cook, while stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until ingredients are slightly browned.
- Stir in the kale. Cook, while tossing frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes to the pan. Cook and toss for 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften.
- Put pasta, kale and tomato mixture, almonds, cheese and reserved cooking water in a large bowl. Toss to combine the ingredients.
- Transfer to a platter and serve. Sprinkle additional cheese on top if desired.
2. PUREED BROCCOLI SOUP
Pureed broccoli soup is a simple but worthy addition to our list of delicious leafy greens recipes for heart health. It’s good to eat alone as a light meal or as a healthy starter served alongside your main course. With broccoli as the main ingredient, this creamy dish can lower your cholesterol levels and keep your blood vessels strong. Both are important in making your heart strong and healthy.
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 cups broccoli, chopped
- 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup half-and-half milk (optional)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and celery. Cook, while stirring occasionally, for 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables soften.
- Stir in garlic and parsley. Cook, while stirring, for 10 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add broccoli to the pot. Stir in vegetable broth and water. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a simmer. Then, reduce heat and cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Transfer mixture to a blender. Pulse until the consistency is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add milk if desired.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve.
3. WEDGE SALAD SKEWERS
Wedge salad skewers are a different but fun way to get your daily dose of leafy greens. They add some variety to our list of delicious leafy greens recipes so that you always have something new to prepare in the kitchen. This heart-healthy recipe includes lettuce, a leafy green vegetable that’s low in calories and high in fibre. It’s also rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, both of which work together to improve your heart health.
- 8 slices centre-cut bacon, cooked
- 4 Campari tomatoes, quartered
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into bite-size wedges
- 1 avocado, cut into cubes
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
- 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- Assemble the salad skewers by threading lettuce alternatively with 1/2 slice bacon, avocado cube and a tomato wedge. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up.
- Drizzle blue cheese dressing over the skewers. Sprinkle red onion and blue cheese crumbles on top. Season with black pepper.
- Transfer to a platter and serve.
4. ARUGULA AND PROSCIUTTO PIZZA
Up next, we’re putting the spotlight on arugula. It’s a leafy green that doesn’t get as much attention as the likes of kale, spinach and broccoli. Nevertheless, this tangy vegetable can lower inflammation and improve your heart health. As such, we’ve added this arugula and prosciutto pizza to our delicious leafy greens recipes.
- 454g whole-wheat pizza dough
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup prosciutto, very thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Cover the surface of a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Lightly flour the baking sheet and spread the pizza dough on top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until dough is puffy and slightly crispy.
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, prosciutto and red pepper. Cook, while stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until onion starts to brown.
- Evenly spread the sauce over the pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and cheese has melted.
- Remove pizza from the oven. Sprinkle arugula and tomatoes on top.
- Transfer to a platter. Slice the pizza and serve.
6. LEAFY GREEN SALAD
Try this leafy green salad if you want double the heart protection. As one of our delicious leafy greens recipes for a healthy heart, this simple but fresh salad features both romaine lettuce and baby spinach. Thus, you’re sure to get a hefty dose of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other essential nutrients. These compounds work together to boost heart health as well as improve your overall physical well-being.
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, torn
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Combine romaine lettuce, baby spinach, red onion and mushrooms in a large bowl. Meanwhile, mix together balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a separate bowl.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over the leafy greens. Toss to evenly coat the vegetables with dressing.
- Transfer to a plate and serve.
7. SHRIMP AND WATERCRESS RISOTTO
Shrimp and watercress risotto is a heart-healthy dish that can keep you full and satisfied for a long period. Thus, apart from being one of our delicious leafy greens recipes for a healthy heart, this is also a great choice for those who want to shed excess kilos. Watercress is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there so you can count on the leafy green vegetable to improve your heart health.
- 454g shrimp, deveined and chopped
- 1 bunch watercress, torn
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
- Add dry white wine to the pot. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until mixture has a syrupy consistency.
- Stir in chicken broth and rice. Cover the pot and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
- Add shrimp to the pot. Cook, while stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes. Then, fold in watercress.
- Transfer to a large bowl and serve.
If you’re planning to kickstart your journey to a healthy heart, leafy greens are some of the best foods to eat. Watercress, spinach and kale are just a few examples of these nutrient-dense vegetables. They’re packed with all the right nutrients and compounds that can keep your heart strong. As you add leafy greens recipes into your heart-healthy diet, you’ll be able to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.