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On the Menu: Healthy Fats without Fish!

Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Katie Francisco discusses heart healthy fats.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we continue with our Heart Health Theme for the month of February, Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Katie Francisco discusses heart healthy fats, specifically Omega 3 Fatty Acids. 

The best dietary source for these important fats is fish like salmon and tuna (2 servings per week is recommended).

What Are the Benefits of Eating Foods with Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of blood clots 
  • Prevents plaque forming in the arteries
  • Lower triglyceride levels 
  • Less inflammation
  • Increased levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure

But what if you don’t like fish? The good news is there are other foods that also provide these super healthy fats. 

Non-Fish Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (ALA)

  • 1 teaspoon Flaxseed oil = 2.42 gram
  • ¼ cup Walnuts - 2.27 gram
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds = 1.82 gram
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Flax seed = 1.6 gram
  • 1 Tablespoon Hemp Seeds= 0.87 gram

*recommended intake: 1.6 gram for men, 1.1 gram for women

Here's some recipes packed full of heart healthy fats:

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Granola Bars


  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked
  • 1 cup oats old fashioned or quick cooking
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter 
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread quinoa, oats, walnuts, chia and flax on a baking sheet. Bake until slightly toasted, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, line an 8" x 11" baking dish with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a small pot, melt peanut butter and honey until smooth and creamy over medium heat. Remove from the heat once bubbles start to form around the edges. Whisk cinnamon, vanilla and salt into the peanut butter mixture. 
  4. Place toasted quinoa and oat mixture into a large bowl then pour melted peanut butter sauce into the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until everything is evenly coated.
  5. Let mixture cool slightly then stir in chocolate chips. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared glass baking dish. Use spatula to press mixture firmly into the pan.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours or up to overnight.
  7. To serve, slice into 16 bars.

*recipe modified from thelemonbowl.com

Walnut Raspberry Salad and Raspberry Vinaigrette


  • 3 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive oil or Avocado Oil
  • 2 teaspoon ground Flaxseeds
  • 2 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 6 ounce package fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped and toasted California walnuts


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add spinach and onion and toss gently to coat with dressing.
  4. Add raspberries and walnuts and toss very lightly again.
  5. Serve immediately.

*recipe source California Walnuts.

Hemp Tabbouleh


  • 1 cup Hemp Hearts
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cucumber, chopped into small bits 
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ground pepper, to taste


  1. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. 
  2. Taste and add additional lemon juice, olive oil and pepper, if needed. 
  3. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

*recipe modified from eatingbirdfood.com


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