Heart Health’s Best Kept Secrets: The Shopping List

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. Add these items to your shopping list to remain heart healthy!

  • 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?
  • Ginger root is often used in Asian cuisine, but also makes a great zesty compliment to teas and fruits. Add a teaspoon or two to benefit from its anti-inflammatory effects.

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


Date-Oat Flax Muffins

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, (optional)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates



  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 1-cup oats and the walnuts, if using, in 2 separate small baking pans.
  3. Bake, stirring once or twice, until light golden and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes for the nuts and 8 to 10 minutes for the oats. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.
  6. Whisk in buttermilk, orange juice, oil, orange zest and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Fold in dates, the toasted oats and nuts, if using. Scoop batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full). Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oats.
  7. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.


Nutrition Information:

Per muffin: 252 Calories; 9 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 36 mg Cholesterol; 41 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 195 mg Sodium; 194 mg Potassium, 2 Carbohydrate Serving

Tip: You can use buttermilk powder in place of fresh buttermilk. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

Source: EatingWell