Every February 14th you push your heart into overdrive. Why not change it up this year and show your heart some much needed love and devotion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death not only in the United States, but also the world (http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm). Roughly 600,000 people die from heart disease in the US annually and over 700,000 Americans experience heart attacks. Both medical conditions and lifestyle choices put our hearts at risk of failure. These include diabetes, high cholesterol, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity.
When we’re young, we think our bodies can handle anything we throw at them. In truth, the late night pizza orders, deep-fried chicken dinners on Sunday, and a diet of hot dogs and Mac-and-Cheese clog our arteries at any age. You can take steps to prevent further damage by making healthier food choices, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising frequently, and of course, quitting smoking.
Today, let’s focus on making healthier food choices. This day’s worth of heart healthy meal suggestions is sure to fill you up and keep your ticker ticking smoothly.
Start your day with a generous portion of oatmeal, preferably not the instant kind. Top it off with some almonds and berries, and you have yourself a whole lot of heart-y goodness. Don’t forget the coffee or green tea! Both aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease in their own ways.
- Oatmeal acts like a sponge and soaks up cholesterol lurking in your digestive track before it has a chance to seep into the bloodstream.
- Blueberries and strawberries contain anthocyanins, which may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of a heart attack.
- Almonds (or walnuts) contain fiber and vitamin E, and help lower cholesterol.
Your second meal of the day is a filling spinach salad topped with baby tomatoes, strawberries (or pomegranates if you had strawberries for breakfast), nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a 4oz. of chicken breast for an additional shot of protein.
- Spinach contains carotenoids, which aid in ridding your body of harmful toxins. It is also high in fiber meaning it keeps you fuller longer.
- Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may help lower your bad cholesterol levels.
- Pomegranates help prevent your arteries from hardening thus allowing blood to flow more freely to the heart.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a tasty, healthy addition to any meal because it is a source of good fats known to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Aim to keep dinner clean yet satisfying. On the menu for tonight is salmon with steamed green beans and broccoli. When trying to eat healthy, stay as far away from boredom as possible by experimenting with various herbs to keep your meals clean, fresh, and unique.
- Salmon has high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to lower your triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. It also reduces your risk of irregular heartbeats and plaque build up in the arteries. Experts suggest eating salmon or other types of fish rich in omega-3s at least twice a week.
- Green beans and other legumes help control blood sugar, which is essential for those suffering from diabetes. Additionally, legumes provide excellent amounts of protein without all the fat.
- Broccoli, like spinach, acts as an antioxidant ridding your body of harmful compounds.
If you’re hungry in between meals, choose citrus fruits or soy (think edamame) to tide you over until the next meal.
- Oranges, and other citrus fruits, contain flavonoids, plant based compounds known to reduce inflammation and aid in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
- Soy contains high levels of good fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is linked to the reduction of blood pressure and the decrease of LDL (or bad) cholesterol.
Looking for a little something sweet? Feel free in indulge in dark chocolate, which can reduce the chances of fatal heart attacks and strokes.
Sometimes we need a little extra help staying on track. These two supplements can be added to your daily routine for an additional dose of heart healthy benefits.
- CoQ10 is a coenzyme that energizes the mitochondria in cells. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell where all of its energy is made. Since the heart is a muscle, CoQ10 will help the mitochondria in heart cells produce energy. It may even improve your survival rate after even the most severe case of heart failure.
- Krill oil provides omega-3 fats in a form that our bodies can absorb known as phospholipids. This enables the fats to enter the blood quicker than it would when digested in other forms. If you’re not eating enough omega-3 fats, krill oil is a fabulous way to obtain what you’re lacking. After all, omega-3 deficiency is a major factor in cardio vascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
This day’s worth of heart healthy meals is just something I developed on my own (and with the help of a friend who knows her supplements!). Do your research and make smarter choices.
Your heart, and the one who has stolen it, will thank you!
Want more information? Take a look at the articles used in this research.