February is American Heart Health Month. When looking for heart-healthy recommendations like eating for heart health and exercising for heart-health, our functional medicine practitioners investigate a patient’s unique needs, offer education and guide individuals through customized wellness plans to adapt their lifestyle for heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, one person dies every 36-seconds from cardiovascular disease. Preventing and treating heart disease involves practicing healthy nutrition.

One method to consider when eating for heart health is The Institute for Functional Medicine’s Cardiometabolic Food Plan. The Cardiometabolic Food Plan is intended to be a phytonutrient-dense, metabolically-balanced approach to enabling the body to more effectively regulate inflammation, insulin, and metabolism.

The Cardiometabolic Food Plan may be an option for individuals that identify with one of the following categories:

  • Those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
  • Those with risk factors for dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2D), or both
  • Those with CVD (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and elevated blood fats)
  • Those with metabolic syndrome (e.g., high blood sugar, increased belly fat)
  • Those with T2D

Why Cardiometabolic?

The food plan is called “cardiometabolic” because it aims to address both cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions share similar causes, including inflammation, insulin resistance, and stress which can be addressed by dietary and lifestyle changes to treat these causes.

Elements of the cardiometabolic food plan include:

  • Practicing a modified Mediterranean approach to nutrition
  • Assessing Low Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL)
  • Specifying Targeted Calories
  • Adhering to Regular Eating Times
  • Developing a High Fiber, Low in Simple Sugars Diet
  • Balancing Quality Fats
  • Incorporating Condition-Specific Phytonutrients

Embracing a cardiometabolic food plan may seem limiting but there are many recipes and resources available to help individuals in their wellness journey to heart health. Review some of our favorite cardiometabolic recipes below (we have many more) and consult with one of our practitioners about developing a personalized plan for your heart-healthy lifestyle and heart disease prevention or treatment needs.

We recommend that individuals consult with their physician prior to making any substantial lifestyle, health or nutritional changes.

Heart-Healthy Cardiometabolic Recipes

Balsamic Roasted Beets

Fresh organic beet, beetroot. Grey rustic wooden background. Close up.

Makes 2 servings

Nutrition (per serving):
Calories: 77
Fat (g): 0, Sat. Fat (g): 0, Chol (mg): 0, Sodium (mg): 264, Carb (g): 18, Fiber (g): 3, Protein (g): 3

Core Food Plan (per serving):
Veg: 1

1 bunch trimmed beets (about 4 beets)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Gently scrub beets, and pat dry. Wrap in foil, and roast until tender (about 1 hour). Let cool, then peel and dice.

3. Place beets in a medium bowl, toss with balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper, and serve.

Chocolate Mint Spinach Smoothie

Fresh baby spinach leaves in wooden bowl on gray stone table

Makes 2 servings

Nutrition (per serving):
Calories: 146, Fat (g): 5, Sat. Fat (g): 1, Chol (mg): 30, Sodium (mg): 278, Carb (g): 9, Fiber (g): 4, Protein (g): 19

Core Food Plan (per serving):
Protein: 2
Veg: 1.5

2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (whey or vegan varieties, like pea, rice, organic soy or hemp)
1 to 1½ cups ice
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more, to taste)
2 handfuls (about 2-4 cups) baby spinach


1. Put almond milk in a Vitamix or powerful blender.

2. Add protein powder, ice, and peppermint extract.

3. Add the baby spinach on top and start blender on low speed, and

gradually work up to high speed for approximately 1 minute until

smooth and well-blended.

4. Add more or less ice to desired consistency.

Egg White Vegetable Frittata

Ingredients Eggs, onion, garlic, tomatoes, pepper, spinach. Black background. Top view

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition (per serving):
Calories: 99, Fat (g): 7, Sat. Fat (g): 1, Chol (mg): 0, Sodium (mg): 276, Carb (g): 4, Fiber (g): 1, Protein (g): 6

Core Food Plan (per serving):
Proteins: 0.5
Fats & Oils: 1
Veg: 1

8 egg whites (approximately 1 cup of egg whites), beaten with a little bit of water
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, medium dice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 ounces baby spinach, prewashed

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg whites with a little water, sea salt, and pepper, and set aside.

2. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté for 10 minutes or until translucent.

3. Add tomatoes, and cook until they begin to get soft and release their juices. Add spinach, and cook to wilt leaves. Remove from heat.

4. Pour beaten egg whites into skillet, and stir to combine sautéed vegetables. Place skillet in the oven (or transfer to a greased glass pie pan if skillet is not oven safe), for about 20 minutes or until the eggs have set.

5. Gently place spatula under all sides of the skillet to loosen the edges. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Chicken Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

Quinoa in heart-shaped bowl on gray cement background.

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition (per serving):
Calories: 205, Fat (g): 9, Sat. Fat (g): 1, Chol (mg): 74, Sodium (mg): 228, Carb (g): trace, Fiber (g): trace, Protein (g): 28

Core Food Plan (per serving):
Proteins: 1.5
Veg: 1
Fruits: 1
Grains: 0.5

¾ cup quinoa
1¾ cup water
¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
½ Fuji apple, cored and finely chopped
½ cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
⅓ cup fresh scallions, green and white parts, finely chopped
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked, chopped or shredded
2 cups baby spinach
¼ cup blood orange juice (or regular orange juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Rinse quinoa in strainer, drain well, and place moist grain in heavy, medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with wooden spatula until grains stick to bottom of pot and then start to move freely and smell toasty, about 5 minutes.

2. When grains of quinoa start to pop, move pot off heat and pour in 1. cups water, being cautious, as it will splatter. Immediately return pot to heat, and reduce heat to medium. Add . teaspoon salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until quinoa is almost tender. Remove from heat and let sit covered, for about 10 minutes. Using fork, fluff quinoa, and transfer it to a medium to large mixing bowl.

3. After quinoa is at room temperature, add apple, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, mint, parsley, scallions, almonds, chicken, and fresh spinach. Mix.

4. In small bowl, whisk together orange juice (or the two citrus juices) with remaining . teaspoon salt until it dissolves. Add pepper, then whisk in oil. Pour dressing over salad and toss with fork to distribute it evenly. Serve within 2 hours.

Tips: The quinoa and dressing parts of this salad can be made up to 8 hours ahead, then covered and refrigerated separately and combined shortly before serving.

Start Your Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Today!

Are you interested in developing a custom nutrition plan for your specific health needs and wellness goals? Our functional medicine physicians can help!

If you are a current patient interested in scheduling an appointment, please log into the patient portal to make your request or call the office during business hours, (239) 649-7400.

If you are a new patient, please contact our new patient coordinator for appointment scheduling at newpatient@naplescfm.com or (239) 649-7400  or complete the form below: