Skip to main content

Aetna Medicare homeAetna DSNPs > Recipes to prevent heart disease

Recipes to prevent heart disease

These easy greens-packed recipes can lower your risk of high cholesterol, hypertension and more.

Rochelle Billow By Rochelle Bilow

Are you looking to add foods to your diet that help prevent heart disease? Then add leafy greens to your menu. They’re one of the best — and tastiest — options. Leafy greens pack in nutrients and good-for-you compounds like vitamin K and nitrates. These are known to help prevent serious heart conditions.

And it doesn’t take much: Just one cup a day of greens could lower your risk of heart disease by 12 percent.1,2 Try spinach, lettuce or kale. The same amount can significantly lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.3 (Steam the greens for maximum benefits.)4

The science behind leafy greens’ heart-healthy benefits goes on. But you get them only if you eat a full cup a day. For that, you need simple recipes you truly enjoy. Fortunately, that’s easy too. With these fast and affordable recipes, you’ll have a delicious veggie-rich dish on the table in 25 minutes or less.

 


Aetna D-SNP members get a benefit card with a monthly allowance for approved foods like produce, dairy products, meat, pantry staples and more. Learn more at AetnaMedicare.com.


 

Super greens soup

Frozen veggies and canned beans make this soup super simple and budget-friendly. It’s a great option when fresh greens aren’t available. Plus, you can serve it hot or chilled all year long. If you happen to have fresh spinach at home, you can use 4 cups of that instead of frozen spinach.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen sweet peas
1 cup canned cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups sodium-free chicken broth
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. black pepper
4 tsp. vegetable oil or olive oil
½ cup store-bought seasoned croutons

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the oil and croutons. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until spinach is tender, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Carefully transfer the vegetables and liquid to a blender. (If you don’t have a blender, a mixer or food processor also works.) Blend on the lowest speed, slowly working up to the highest, until smooth and creamy. Work in batches if necessary. Return soup to pot and gently reheat over low heat.  
  3. Divide the soup among four bowls and top each with a drizzle of 1 tsp. olive oil and croutons.

Nutrition Info Per Serving:
196 calories; 10 g protein; 28 g carbs; 8 g fiber; 6 g fat (1 g saturated); 4 g sugar; 410 mg sodium


Aetna D-SNP members can get help tracking and understanding their blood pressure and cholesterol levels from their care team. Learn more at AetnaMedicare.com.


 

Warm grain salad with tomato and greens

You can make this hearty salad with quick-cooking quinoa, a high-protein grain, or rice. Combine it with tender greens, such as baby kale or baby spinach. Add fresh tomatoes for a pop of flavor. Don’t have Italian seasoning blend? Replace it with your favorite seasoning, such as lemon and pepper or Cajun.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa or rice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups tender greens (such as baby kale or baby spinach)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Italian seasoning blend
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cook quinoa or rice as directed on the package. In a large mixing bowl, combine your grain and all remaining ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix everything together.  
  2. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Info Per Serving:

234 calories; 8 g protein; 35 g carbs; 5 g fiber; 6 g fat (1 g saturated); 3 g sugar; 137 mg sodium

 

Zesty chickpeas with baked eggs and greens

Toss canned chickpeas with oil and bake until crispy. Add a few eggs during the last few minutes of roasting. They’ll cook to perfection. Top it all off with fresh greens. The heat of the eggs and chickpeas will gently wilt them.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 18 to 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tsp. vegetable oil or olive oil, divided
1 (14.5 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ tsp. lemon juice, fresh or bottled
4 large eggs
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 cups baby greens (such as spinach, kale, chard or arugula)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place a large ovenproof skillet on the middle rack to preheat. Once the pan is hot, carefully remove it with oven mitts.  
  2. Add 2 tsp. oil and chickpeas to hot pan. Sprinkle lemon juice over the chickpeas and stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Using your oven mitts, place the pan back in the oven and let cook for 10 minutes.  
  3. Carefully remove pan. Use a spoon to create four spaces between the chickpeas. Crack an egg into each space. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper.  
  4. Using oven mitts, return pan to the oven and cook until egg whites are set but yolks have not yet hardened, 7 to 8 minutes. If you prefer hard-cooked eggs, add 2 to 3 minutes to the cooking time.  
  5. Remove pan from the oven and immediately top with the greens. Drizzle everything with the remaining 1 tsp. oil. Use a spatula or serving spoon to divide between plates, and enjoy warm. 

Nutrition Info Per Serving:
272 calories; 16 g protein; 30 g carbs; 37 g fiber; 11 g fat (2 g saturated); 11 g sugar; 154 mg sodium


Need help managing your heart health? If you’re an Aetna D-SNP member, your care team is here for you. They can help answer your questions and connect you with the right support for your needs. Learn more at AetnaMedicare.com.


 

Chicken and greens stir-fry

Chicken is a lean protein that’s easy to work with. Here, it cooks quickly in one pan with greens and rice. The best rice for this dish is leftover takeout rice because it’s dry and crisps up quickly, but any cooked rice will work. You can also use leftover or already-cooked chicken. Just skip step 2 and add the chicken to the pan at the same time as the rice in step 4. That will keep the meat from getting tough.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 oz. each), cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil
½ tsp. ground cumin (or taco seasoning)
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 cups baby bok choy, cabbage or spinach, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup cooked rice
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

Instructions:

  1. Heat your largest skillet over high heat. Add the oil.  
  2. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken. Season all over with the cumin and black pepper. Cook, stirring the chicken constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat to medium-high if it’s browning too quickly.  
  3. Add the greens. Sauté, stirring everything in the pan until the greens are wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.  
  4. Add the rice and continue cooking over high heat, stirring constantly, until everything is warm and the chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees).  
  5. Add the soy sauce and stir to mix, then remove from heat. Serve warm. 

Nutrition Info Per Serving:
213 calories; 30 g protein; 13 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 5 g fat (1 g saturated); 1 g sugar; 230 mg sodium

 

1. Blekkenhorst LC, Sim M, Bondonno CP, et al. Cardiovascular health benefits of specific vegetable types: a narrative review. Nutrients. May 11, 2018; 10 (5): 595. >}

2. Leermakers ET, Darweesh SK, Baena CP, et al. The effects of lutein on cardiometabolic health across the life course: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. February 2016; 103 (2): 481-94. >}

3. Bondonno CP, Dalgaard F, Blekkenhorst LC, et al. Vegetable nitrate intake, blood pressure and incident cardiovascular disease: Danish diet, cancer, and health study. European Journal of Epidemiology. April 21, 2021. >}

4. Kahlon TS, Chiu MM, Chapman MH. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage. Nutrition Research. June 2008; 28 (6): 351-7.

Request a call

Request a call with a licensed agent.

 

Call me