Heart Health’s Best Kept Secrets

Heart Health’s Best Kept Secrets

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA

Tired of spending half of your time at the store debunking health claims on food packages? Not to worry! There are several everyday household ingredients that can also boost your heart health potential.

Here’s a tip: focus on ingredients that are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or fiber-rich. These foods prevent clotting and oxidative damage to our blood vessels.

  • Ground Cinnamon is a very good source of fiber and therefore, has a lowering effect on cholesterol. Use cinnamon in oatmeal, rice pudding or even to sweeten black beans to enjoy its nutrient power!
  • Cayenne Pepper, which actually pairs wonderfully with ground cinnamon, is characterized by its spicy, warm flavor. It is also known to fight inflammation and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels!
  • Flaxseeds are chock full of fiber and polyunsaturated fats- like fish! This quality lends itself to controlling high blood pressure and improving heart health. Their rustic, nutty flavor compliment grains deliciously, but also disguise well when added to a fruit smoothie.
  • Garlic makes a cameo in almost all of my savory dishes. Who knew that it could help prevent inflammation reducing risk for Coronary Heart Disease?
  • Broccoli’s fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties contribute to heart health. It can help lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular function

Crispy Broccoli

Crispy Broccoli

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

Makes: 7 Servings


  • 5 pounds broccoli Crowns
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts or sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets with olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Toss well.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray or may drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Spread broccoli in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, turn over broccoli and add nuts evenly over broccoli.
  5. Continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information:

199 calories; 7g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 108mg Sodium; 4g Fiber