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Celebrate Heart Month with Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Celebrate Heart MonthDid you know that heart disease is the second leading cause of death for both men and women in Canada? February is Heart Month. It is “a time to raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health and an opportunity to focus on what we can do to improve our heart health” says The Public Health Agency of Canada. According to the World Health Organization, “the most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.”

So in honour of Heart Month, this recipe for Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets serves up a heaping helping of heart-healthy nutrients. And if you are time-pressed or don’t know your way around a kitchen, take heart, because it’s super simple to prepare!

To make this dish even more heart-healthy, serve it with farro either on the side or mixed in with the beets. The high fibre content of this whole grain helps reduce LDL cholesterol in your blood, lowering your risk of heart disease. You can read more about the many health benefits of farro in this previous post of mine (and here’s the link to view the recipe it features: Farro & Beet Salad).

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets. And read on to find out more about how including salmon and beets in your diet can help keep your heart in tip-top shape.


Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Spice Crusted Salmon & BeetsSalmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “the strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of omega-3 fats has to do with heart disease“. These fats seem to help keep heart rhythm steady, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and improve the function of blood vessels.

I like a spicy kick. And the main pungent compound in chili peppers, capsaicin, is also thought to be good for the heart due to it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This recipe is versatile though. Not keen on steak spice? Feel free to prepare the salmon any way you like. One of my favourite ways to roast salmon is with a mixture of olive oil and grainy Dijon mustard brushed over top, as in the photo. You could also use any spice blend you like. The last time I made this I used a spice blend called Ritual from Hurt Berry Farm. And the time before that it was a Moroccan spice blend. Be creative and switch things up so you can enjoy salmon a few times a week. Your heart will be as happy as your taste buds.


Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Spice Crusted Salmon & BeetsBeets are a rich source of nitrate which the body converts into nitric oxide (NO). Research shows NO can lower blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to relax and widen. Beets are also rich in folate (vitamin B9), which plays a key role in controlling damage to blood vessels, which can lower your chances of heart disease and stroke. And beets contain pigments called betalains, which have anti-inflammatory effects. A specific form of betalain called betanin (found in red beets) can protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.

When you boil vegetables, some of the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. But in this recipe the nutrient-rich juices are reserved and included in the finished dish. So be sure to use no more water than called for. Enjoy!

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