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Heart-healthy snacks

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Snack smart for heart-health

In addition to regular exercise, one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy is to optimize your nutrient intake. Your choice of snacks is equally important. This month, ditch your donut and drive-thru routine and dig into some of these handy heart-healthy treats.

Pita pizza

Veggies and hummus

Fresh vegetables are loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants and vitamins, including vitamins C and D. Veggies are also low in calories and fat. Add to that a tasty dip like hummus, which is packed with protein, fiber and good-for-you flavonoids, and you're looking at a winning heart-healthy snack combination.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Organic Raw Hummus

Soup

Soup is one of those foods that can work great as a meal or as a snack. The best part? It's easy to make. All you need is a can of vegetable broth (creamy soup options are not as heart-healthy), some spices and frozen vegetables. Mix them all together and simmer until cooked through. The result? A heart-friendly snack that packs a powerful vitamin and antioxidant punch. And if you must buy canned soup, reach for the low-sodium varieties.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Organic Soup

Mini pita pizzas

A nutritional powerhouse, pita pizzas are loaded with heart-healthy nutrients and minerals, from antioxidant-filled tomatoes to vitamin C-loaded peppers. Make these pita-based snacks topped with low-fat cheese and veggies; they will deliciously crush your cravings for delivery pie.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Cheerleader Chicken Veggie Pizza

Fruit and chocolate

Getting your daily dose of fruit is key to staving off a wide range of diseases, including heart disease. But sometimes, when your sweet tooth calls, fruit itself isn't enough to keep you sated. A heart-healthy solution? Pair your favorite fruit with a modest amount of semi-sweet or dark chocolate. Loaded with flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant known to prevent heart disease, this sweet tooth satisfying combination can be your go-to instead of candy bars or fattening baked goods.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Yogurt and nuts

Some studies show getting your daily dose of calcium through dairy products can actually decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A great afternoon snack to nosh is low-fat yogurt mixed with a small handful of antioxidant-rich nuts (almonds are a great choice). This nutritionally powerful snack will satisfy your need for creamy and crunch as well as boost the health of your heart.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Yogurt Berry Granola Parfait

Peanut butter sandwiches

Loaded with protein and heart-healthy whole grain carbs (when made on multigrain bread), this lunchtime classic is a tasty, healthy afternoon snack. Add real-fruit jam or slices of bananas or experiment with different types of nut butters, like almond butter or soy nut butter, to give your heart an even bigger nutritional boost.

Heart-healthy snack recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Heart Sandwiches

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