Welcome to The Cooking Cardiologist Blog! I write about health, food and cooking from my perspective as a cardiologist (as you can imagine, there’s a lot to know). If you don’t see something you’re interested to know, please ask!
Sometimes in the culinary world, taking a few steps off the beaten path and combining curious ingredients can unlock some exceptionally edible enigmas. When it comes to creating food dishes, occasionally square pegs will fit in round holes and pigs will grow wings and fly. Combinations like strawberries and black pepper, chocolate and chili, or peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches, sound like recipes for disaster at first glance – but they are actually delectable dynamite when they are put into practice. It’s only natural if a blank stare wipes over your face when you first ponder the prospect of a shrimp and watermelon salad. A fruit and crustacean salad? Sounds preposterous, right? Actually, the only thing preposterous about it is how tasty – and healthy – this combo really is.
One combination that is anything but extraordinary is watermelon and summertime – these two are just about inseparable, and that’s a very good thing for fruit enthusiasts everywhere. Not only is watermelon sweet, crisp, and refreshing, but it’s also a delicious dynamo when it comes to taking care of your heart. Watermelon is packed with two juggernauts for a healthy heart: lycopene and citrulline. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has shown in a number of studies to help reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against DNA damage. Citrulline is an amino acid that helps bolster nitric oxide production in the body, which is important for regulating blood pressure, improving blood flow, and preventing LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholestoral”) from building up on the vascular walls. Watermelon happens to be one of the densest sources of citrulline in the world, and the team of the two is a big-time winner when it comes to cardiovascular health.
Now, coming back to our recipe, strawberries and avocado also team up with watermelon in this salad to give a big boost to the taste and the nutritional content. You’ll really take your taste buds for a plunge into the deep end when you add the sesame chili oil and the jalapeño to the mix. These additions pack the punch of a prizefighter, and combined with the cilantro leaves, they shoot the taste of this already tasty dish up into the stratosphere. It’s a good idea to refrigerate the fruits and avocado for about an hour after mixing them in order to maximize the freshness of the salad once it is ready to be served. With regards to the shrimp, either jumbo or regular sized shrimp will suffice for the recipe. It’s an extremely healthy recipe, and although the avocado is high in fat, the fatty acids are Omega-3, meaning that they are still good for you. There’s no better time to make this than in the summer – you can stop by your local farmer’s market and pick up most of the ingredients when they are as fresh as can be!