Food Articles


Healthy Chili Recipes for the Super Bowl and Your Heart

January 31, 2013

Super Bowl time means it's chili time, but I'd argue that with the right recipes, you can fit chili into a healthy diet anytime--not just on America's second favorite overeating-oriented holiday. In fact, some of the key ingredients in chili are incredibly good for overall health, especially for the heart--good news as American Heart Month starts tomorrow (be sure to check out our Doable Challenge: Boost Your Omega-3s for Heart Health). Let's start with beans: As a great source of fiber, beans can contribute to heart and digestive health, and also help with weight control and blood sugar management. Beyond fiber, beans provide protein and lots of vitamins (black beans, for example, are a great source of folate). Tomatoes are another wildly healthy ingredient. Lycopene, the antioxidant found in abundance in tomatoes, contributes to heart health and fights certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer. And in a recent study at the University of Eastern Finland, researchers found that of the 1,031 men aged 42 to 61 they followed, those with the highest blood levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest, according to the January issue of the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. And good news for winter cooks: Cooked tomatoes (including canned) deliver even more lycopene than raw ones (up the amounts of lycopene your body absorbs even more by including a bit of healthy fat in the dish). And finally, all those onions, peppers, and other vegetables that are often in chili pack plenty of nutrients and can crowd out excessive amounts of meat, leading to a more balanced bowl of food. Epicurious has well over 100 healthy chili recipes, including vegetarian chili, such this Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard, which I recently made and enjoyed for three days straight (high praise for leftovers). In addition, just about every one of the site's regular chili recipes could be easily modified to make it healthier. My lucky chili recipe, for example, is inspired by this Beef and Dark Beer Chili, but instead of the five pounds (yes, five pounds!) of ground chuck the recipe calls for, I sub a pound or two of ground bison, for far less saturated fat and fewer calories per serving. It would also be good with lean ground beef or ground turkey. To further healthify your chili, top it with low-fat Greek yogurt and/or good-fat-packed avocado instead of sour cream. For more game-day recipes, see Kendra's recent post about healthy Super Bowl snacks. Pictured: Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash (another variation on the recipe described above)

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