- view all thumbnails
America's top heart hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, has compiled a list of the top 13 vegetables that it says are so cardio-protective they should be eaten often. Its experts picked vegetables that provide the most heart benefit for the calories they contain. Each food is loaded with nutrients that can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help you lose weight.
Here you'll get appetizer, soup, salad, side-dish and main-dish recipes featuring Cleveland Clinic's top vegetable picks. You'll also find tips for selecting and storing the vegetables.
Orange-Sauced Broccoli & Peppers
Power Vegetables: Broccoli, Bell Pepper, Onion, Garlic
Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. Serve this as a side dish or spoon over rice for a quick, vegetarian main dish.
Power Vegetable: Carrots
Fresh ginger adds a sweet bite to this colorful side dish. Plus, carrots are brimming with vitamin A.
Tip: To store fresh ginger, wrap it tightly in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It can be kept there for up to three weeks.
Power Vegetable: Tomato, Onion
Tip: Studies indicate that organic tomatoes may contain more antioxidants. To keep them fresh, refrigerate after cutting.
Power Vegetable: Asparagus
Simple to prepare and delicious to eat, asparagus can be enjoyed with the lightest of flavorful toppings. It's also full of vitamin B6, which helps to lower the amino acids linked to heart disease.
Tip: It's best to buy asparagus from March to June. The veggie's seasonal peak is in April and May.
Power Vegetable: Sweet Potatoes
When you get a hankering for fast food, try these sweet potato fries instead. You'll satisfy your craving for crunch, and a bit of salt, while still being good to your heart.
Tip: Leave the skin on the sweet potatoes for even more fiber.
Power Vegetables: Squash, Onion, Garlic
This rich, buttery soup is easy to make and freezes well. High in potassium, winter squash helps regulate heart and muscle contraction.
Power Vegetables: Leek, Garlic, Leafy Greens
Sweet apple-glazed chicken will please any dinner guest, and spinach -- high in zinc -- strengthens the immune system and helps regulate blood pressure.
Tip: Don't throw your leek leaves away; toss them in your spinach salad for added antioxidants.
Power Vegetables: Carrot, Bell Pepper, Tomato, Onion, Garlic
Whip up this special dish on a whim, and improvise with any of your favorite heart-healthy vegetables. Vivid bell peppers are especially high in vitamins A and C, which help keep cholesterol in check.
Power Vegetables: Potato, Onion
Now here's good reason to eat one of the nation's favorite comfort foods: High in potassium, potatoes can help the body regulate normal blood pressure.
Power Vegetable: Leafy Greens, Tomato
Silverware optional. Take this convenient lunch along on your next walk or bike ride. Chock-full of potassium and magnesium -- essential nutrients for regulating a healthy blood pressure -- this garden-on-the-go is sure to please.
Power Vegetables: Onion, Carrot, Bell Pepper, Tomato, Garlic
This recipe packs five of Cleveland Clinic's top veggie picks, and it's also high in fiber. Talk about a powerful heart-healthy dish!
Power Vegetables: Carrot, Bell Pepper, Onion
Simmer this tangy barbecue pork all day (if you can wait that long) and enjoy its cardio benefits. Carotenoids, found in carrots, have strong antioxidant effects.
Power Vegetables: Shallots, Leafy Greens
Shallots have a sweet flavor that's a cross between onion and garlic. Besides adding a bit of kick to your salad, they also provide folate, which lowers homocysteine levels, an amino acid associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and reduces the inflammation of blood vessel walls.
Power Vegetable: Bell Pepper, Tomato
Veggies in the morning? You bet! Start the day off right with this power-packed treat. Loaded with vegetables high in vitamin C, you might even be able to skip the orange juice.
Power Vegetables: Bell Pepper, Garlic
Enjoy these as a side dish or toss them with salads and pastas. Red peppers also work well as a colorful condiment for grilled meats.
Tip: Unwashed, raw bell peppers stay fresh in a refrigerator crisper for up to five days.
Power Vegetables: Asparagus, Leafy Greens, Garlic, Onion
Citrus-orange dressing adds a special twist to this seafood salad. Plus, three of the four power veggies are high in folate, which helps decrease homocysteine levels (high levels are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke).
A deep, orange hue in sweet potatoes is attributed to vitamin A. This important veggie is also high in copper. Studies show that diets low in copper are linked with cardiovascular complications.
Power Vegetables: Squash, Tomato, Garlic, Onion
Power Vegetables: Potato, Leek
Here's just one more reason to jump out of bed in the morning: a hot cheesy potato dish. Toss leftover leek leaves into a mixed green salad and serve alongside this delicious casserole for a lunch option, too.
Power Vegetable: Bell Pepper
Because the ingredients for this nutrient-packed dish are available year-round, you can savor its refreshing sweetness anytime. Plus, its bright and warming color makes red pepper soup pleasing to the eye.
Power Vegetables: Leafy Greens, Onion
Nothing says fresh like tossing fruit and vegetables together in a salad.
Power Vegetable: Asparagus
Asparagus accompanies the omega-3 rich salmon in this easy-to-make dinner. Asparagus can be finicky in the cooking process, so keep a close watch when you steam the delicate vegetable -- only 4-8 minutes is necessary.
Tip: To better regulate baking time, avoid buying stalks of asparagus that are too thick or too thin.
Power Vegetables: Squash, Onion, Garlic
Power Vegetable: Leafy Greens
Have a little fun: Add visual and nutrient variety by using a mixture of greens in this salad. Save money by buying leafy greens by the head rather than in a bagged mix.
Power Vegetables: Onion, Carrot, Garlic, Tomato
Bring a little Indian flair to your table. Garam masala, a blend of spices, takes this tomato-based sauce to a whole new level. Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their red color, is also a powerful antioxidant.
Power Vegetable: Garlic
Tip: For the best flavor and quality, purchase lamb that has a pinkish (not deep red) flesh color.
Power Vegetables: Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Onion
Tip: Asparagus stays fresh for about four days in the refrigerator. Snip the bottom ends of the bundle and store upright in water.
Power Vegetables: Carrot, Broccoli, Bell Pepper
Don't wait until you're fighting a cold to stir up chicken soup. Loaded with vitamin C-laced veggies, this comfort classic will do your heart good.
Power Vegetables: Bell Pepper, Garlic, Tomato