Happy Heart Health Month my Friends!
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”
Let us count the ways to improve our loved ones’ heart health (including our own): lower blood pressure, modulate irregular heart beats, avoid plaque build-up in our arteries, & improve blood flow to the heart.
We can love our hearts with the follow 10 foods:
- Cocoa Powder. Cacoa’s flavanols lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and act as antioxidants to prevent inflammation. “Between 400 and 900 milligrams (mg) a day of cocoa flavanols may favorably affect several mechanisms and pathways related to cardiovascular disease prevention.” (Dr. JoAnn E. Manson) Not all chocolate is created equal though. I use raw cacao from Navitas Organics, but whatever you use, make sure that cacao is the first ingredient.
- Raspberries. Just one-half cup of berries a day can provide plenty of phyto-nutrients and antioxidants for decreasing inflammation and preventing heart disease, according to Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoodsRX Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients. Add them to your smoothie, top your yogurt or salad, or enjoy them with dark chocolate for a tasty, & heart-healthy combo.
- Salmon. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, wild-caught salmon eaten twice a week (about 2 six ounce servings) helps reduce systemic inflammation and risk of developing atherosclerosis, hypertension and stroke, according to Dr. Josh Axe. Omega-3’s in oily fish are also widely known to treat atherosclerosis, normalize heart rhythms and help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as significantly lower the risk of stroke.
- Pumpkin Seeds. High in magnesium –about 764 mg per cup–roasted pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, top the list of heart-healthy nuts and seeds. Magnesium is an important electrolyte that helps the heart fire on all cylinders and not skip a beat. Improvements in lipid profiles can occur with a daily intake of 365 mg, or about a half-cup, of pepitas. Enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack or scatter them in a bowl of chili or soup for a delicious crunch.
- Avocados. Fresh avocados supply magnesium, plus they’re a good source of potassium, another electrolyte the heart needs for optimum functioning. Avocados also supply healthy fats.
- Almonds. Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, a board-certified cardiologist with the HeartMD Institute, recommends a handful of almonds a day to raise HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil with a high phenol content can help lower blood pressure (via about two tablespoons daily) improve the HDL cholesterol and protect the inner linings of your arteries. Daily consumption of high phenol olive oil reduces oxidative DNA damage in postmenopausal women according to this study. Apollo Olive Oil is a great brand with high phenol content but can be a bit expensive, IMO, so another brand that is high in phenols that’s more affordable is Colavita Premium Italian Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.
- Beet Juice. a 2015 study in the journal Hypertension found that two daily eight-ounce glasses of beet juice can help reduce high blood pressure. Beets contain a natural dietary nitrate found in previous studies to lower high blood pressure. Beet juice may boost stamina to help you exercise longer & improve blood flow. Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure.
- Garlic. Allicin, the sulfur compound that gives garlic its distinctive aroma, helps keep blood thin and flowing optimally. The freshest chopped garlic offers the best benefits, according to a study from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
- Pomegranate. Drinking about one cup of pomegranate juice (no-sugar added kind) a day for three months can improve blood flow to the heart, according to a study in the American Journal of Cardiology.
If the health benefits of these 10 foods still don’t convince you to be “heart-healthy” and cut back on the cookies and hop on the treadmill, then maybe these reasons will:
- You’ll live longer. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women, yet heart disease is one of the most preventable chronic conditions. Staying heart-healthy increases longevity. If you have heart-health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, taking the medications you need for better heart health translates into added years.
- You’ll be a vital part of your children’s and grandchildren’s lives. A healthy heart means enjoying activities with your children and being able to chase your grandchildren around without the huffing and puffing from a tired ticker. If you keep a healthy weight, don’t smoke, and stay active, you can keep up with the little ones—at least most of the time!
- You’ll save money. As a nation, the United States spends $444 billion every year on heart disease and stroke. By some estimates, $1 of every $6 spent on healthcare goes toward heart disease and stroke care. Researchers also know that if you have problems paying for medications and doctor visits, you’ll be less likely to take the steps needed for heart health. So do everything you can to avoid heart disease—you’ll be able to put the money you save toward enjoying life more.
- You’ll feel better. Heart disease makes it hard for you to get around comfortably. You might experience problems like fatigue and shortness of breath—signs that your heart is not working as well as it should. Some of these symptoms can be relieved with medications, but taking steps in the right direction, such as exercising, eating well, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid them from the start.
- You’ll protect your brain. Researchers now know that heart disease risk factors can lead to more than heart disease: Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease are also on the list. So a healthy heart can also bring the bonus of a healthy brain. You’ll also be reducing your chance of having a stroke, which can take away cognitive function as well as speech and movement.
- You’ll protect your hearing. Loss of hearing as you age appears to be linked to heart disease risk factors and events, such as a sudden heart attack. Taking care of your heart means that you’re protecting the blood vessels that support your ears, so you’re likely to protect your hearing longer as well.
- Your sex life will stay vibrant. Researchers have found that people’s sex lives can be negatively affected by poor heart health—not just from heart disease, but also from risk factors for heart disease, such as being overweight or having high blood pressure. Keep your blood flowing well, and you’re more apt to enjoy sex for years to come.
Stay Heart-Healthy my friends!
Carrie A Groff