Heart – when you hear the word heart, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s an image of a heart or Valentine’s Day or February or Compassion or Love or Heart Health or something else entirely. Heart has many meanings.
Fifty-four years ago, February was designated American Heart Month by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time, one half of American deaths were from cardio-vascular disease.
According to the American Heart Association, today we lose about 840,000 American lives a year to heart disease and stroke. Do you know someone who has been touched by heart disease or stroke?
Advancing your health and wellbeing through nutritional choices is one way to help your heart embrace the ones you love (including YOU!). Our “top eleven”!
11 Heart HEALthy Foods
Add these healing foods to your shopping list and fill your kitchen with medicine for your heart! Heal while you eat!
Whole oats have soluble and insoluble fiber that helps maintain gut health and eliminates bad fats so that fewer will be absorbed into the blood. (Too much bad fat can lead to plaque build up in the arteries.) Having oatmeal to start the day is a great way to get started! Avoid pre-packaged instant oatmeal that has needless added sugars.
BERRIES: Blueberries, Raspberries, Pomegranate, and Gogi
These tiny powerhouses have many super powers packed into their tiny beautiful packages. Vitamins and antioxidants (anthocyanin’s, flavonoids, polyphenols) abound, so add these to your oatmeal to boost your morning meal, bring a container to work for a mid morning snack, or add berries to your salad at lunch or dinner!
SEEDS: Flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
Seeds also store many powerful heart healthy secrets in their little shells. Lots of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids make them a great choice to eat throughout the day. Add pumpkin seeds and ground flax seed to your oatmeal, add ground flax seeds to any prepared dish or breadcrumb coating, add seeds to your salad. Bring a small container to work with pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
NUTS: Walnuts, almonds
Nuts eaten in moderation add omega-3 fatty acid to your day protecting your heart from the bad guys. Think about nuts in their shells and the time and effort it takes to get them out. This is the rate we were meant to eat nuts – sparingly. Add a hand full to your oatmeal (now it’s really a super-meal), add to a salad or make a whole grain dish like wheat berries with walnuts.
SALMON: Oily fishes caught in the wild also have omega-3 fatty acid for heart health. The smaller fishes have less contamination with mercury; enjoy 1-2 times a week.
These root vegetables are part of the allium family – all of which have cardio protective effects. Make them a part of your dinner for added flavor and health.
GREENS: Kale, collards, spinach, and swiss chard
These dark leafy greens are packed full of nutrition: vitamins, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. If you could eat them with every meal, your heart would thank you – as well as your immune system, bones and muscles. As weird as it sounds, I sometimes add spinach to my morning oatmeal with a dash of tamari – an Asian twist, to get in an extra serving of greens. Add to your sandwich, make a wrap, make a power greens salad or just sauté with garlic and onions for dinner!
Creamy and yummy – avocados are a great source of healthy fats. Spread on Ezekiel toast for breakfast, add to a wrap for lunch, put in a salad to make it extra special, or blend into a smoothie!
These gorgeous juicy fruits have lycopene, vitamin C, potassium and can be enjoyed in so many ways: fresh in a salad, or cooked in a sauce, stacked with grilled vegetables or thrown in a green smoothie.
These special segmented marvels are full of vitamin C and flavonoids. Enjoy half a grapefruit for breakfast, an orange as an excellent afternoon snack or blend a salad dressing made from lemon juice.
The best for last. Look for chocolate that has cocoa or cacao as the first ingredient to minimize sugar intake. Or buy pure cocoa powder to add to smoothies or make a mole sauce.
These 11 foods help support heart health: lower blood pressure, prevent atherosclerosis in arteries, and improve blood flow. But they are healthy in so many other ways as well – boosting immunity, cancer prevention, bone and muscle health and glowing skin will be the “side effects” from eating these powerful healing foods!!