If you are on a heart patient diet plan due to having heart problems or just wanting to keep your heart healthy, as you adjust your eating to benefit your cardiovascular system, sometimes you may wonder if the comfort foods are a forbidden item. The truth is, when you are creating your heart disease meal plan, you just have to be careful of the ingredients and make sure that each item you use has a benefit for the heart and blood vessels. For instance, rather than a heavy meat based soup full of artery clogging cholesterol, try a tasty vegetable soup that is low in fats and high in fiber.

Fall is the perfect time for both soup and vegetables! Local farm markets are overflowing with a huge array of healthy vegetables and fruits. Not only will your heart benefit, but so will your immune system and your weight if you stick with healthy vegetables as the base of your hearty soup. Research has proven that diet can improve conditions of heart disease, slowing or stopping the progress of degenerative conditions.

Remember to pick a variety of colors; it is often the pigments in the vegetables that have the most beneficial phytochemicals. This is where the antioxidants are that help keep arteries clean and the heart strong. Carrots, onions, a few red potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, a bright red or orange pepper, cabbage, beans, corn, peas, and members of the legume family like black beans or chickpeas will provide an incredible dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All the nutrients that your heart and cardiovascular system crave are packed in these foods. Use either a vegetable stock or an all natural, low sodium and low fat chicken stock. People at risk for high blood pressure and atherosclerosis need to always remain mindful of salt and fat content, keeping them low.

To spice up the soup, forget the saltshaker and black pepper. There is a rich world of herbs and spices, many of them with properties that aid digestion and heart health. If you crave a salty taste, go to the health food store and buy some dulse. This is seaweed that imparts a salty taste with almost no salt. The rich taste comes from the minerals from seawater and this is a proven herb for heart health.

There are many herbal salt substitutes that pack in the flavor without any artificial chemicals. Plenty of garlic and a dash of cayenne will strengthen both the heart and the entire circulatory system. Hopefully your own garden is full of parsley, thyme, and oregano. All of these are heart-benefiting seasonings.

One last word, don’t overcook the soup. The longer vegetables cook, the more nutrients that are lost, so keep cooking time at 60 minutes maximum. Have a slice of warm whole grain bread with the soup and a dessert of baked apples and your heart will love you! You will be on a great heart disease healthy eating plan!