1. Yogurt:
Research shows yogurt may protect against gum disease. Left unchecked, gum disease may elevate a person's risk for heart disease.
Researchers from Japan analyzed dietary intakes from nearly 1,000 adults and found those who consumed the highest levels of dairy-specifically yogurt and yogurt-type drinks-had the healthiest gums. Their report, published in the Journal of Periodontology, credits probiotics (a.k.a. "good bacteria") as one possible champion of gum health. Experts believe that probiotics may help to counter growth of the "unfriendly" bacteria in the mouth.

2. Fruits and Vegetables:
Full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, everyone should aim to have 5 cups of colorful fruits and veggies every day! Especially heart-healthy are tomatoes, raisins, apples, bananas and berries.

3. Whole Grains:
People who eat plenty of whole grains tend to be leaner and have a lower risk of heart disease than those who don't. This is probably because whole grains contain antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols that are protective against coronary disease. The fiber in whole grains also has its benefits: various studies link a high-fiber diet with a lower risk of heart disease.

4. Beans:
Eating beans regularly is good for your heart, and you don't need to eat a lot of them to benefit. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests having just 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans daily might lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber is a key reason why.

5. Salmon and Fish:
Consuming two or more servings of fish per week is associated with a 30 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease over the long term, studies show. Fish-especially "oily" kinds, such as salmon and tuna-contain omega-3 fats, which lower levels of triglycerides in the blood that may contribute to blood clotting.

6. Nuts:
Nuts are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Research suggests that people who eat nuts-walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts (which actually are legumes)-two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who eat them less often.

7. Green Tea
Some of the strongest evidence of tea's health benefits comes from studies of heart disease. Scientists have found that those who drink 12 ounces or more of tea a day are about half as likely to have a heart attack as nontea drinkers.

8. Chocolate:
Researchers have discovered that eating moderate amounts of flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation.

Recipe Demo:
Savory Mushroom Rice Bowl
Serves 4

1 tbsp. Meijer classic olive oil
4 cups sliced mini bella mushrooms (NuVal® score 99)
½ cup Meijer Naturals vegetable stock
4 cups trimmed, thinly sliced kale (NuVal® score 99) or Earthbound Farms Mixed Baby Kale
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
4 cups cooked Meijer instant brown rice (NuVal® score 82)
¼ cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1. In a large nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat about 1 minute. Add mushrooms; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth and kale; cook and stir 3 minutes or just until kale wilts.
2. Stir in raisins and thyme. Season with pepper to taste. Spoon rice evenly in 4 serving bowls. Top evenly with mushroom mixture and (if desired) feta, and serve.

Serve with Meijer Greek yogurt topped with Berries and Green Tea

Recipe adapted from Meijer Healthy Living Naturally Jan/Feb 2013 booklet

Nutrition Information (per serving): 330 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 62g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 10g protein


Shari Steinbach, MS RD, Meijer Dietitian and Healthy Living Manager
For more information, visit

You can also see Shari at the upcoming West Michigan Women's