Good morning! It is officially the Love Month and cheesy hearts are out in full force. At least I’m assuming they are. I honestly haven’t been in a store since last year so I have no idea. Based on previous years, though, I’m assuming they’re out decorating the shelves of stores worldwide. You might not know it, but February is also American Heart Month and CHD Awareness Week begins next week. As someone who is intimately acquainted with CHD, I feel it my duty to spread Heart Health Awareness. To kick it off, I’m giving you three heart healthy foods and simple ways to prepare them.
As some of you may know, I was born with the congenital heart disease, Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia. My Story goes into more detail about the issues I faced at birth and during my five open heart surgeries. We also recently discovered that my older brother has a different heart defect, one that caused him to have a stroke. I am also close to others who either have CHD or their child does. As you can see, heart health is important to me. While I don’t blink at my CHD, I would never wish for anyone to experience the uncertainty and worry that comes from heart disease.
Luckily, there are ways to care for your heart that help prevent heart disease. Everyone knows that exercise is one of those ways and I hope everyone knows that what you eat makes a difference beyond clogging your arteries. You can eat foods to help support your heart, too.
*Do I have to say it? I suppose I do. Though I am intimate with the ways of CHD, I am still not a doctor. Before making any changes to your diet, please consult a physician for your safety. Please use wisdom and caution. There I said it, now on to the information.*
Okay, I am not talking about the lettuce you eat in a salad, though that can count on a low level. I am talking rich greens like spinach and kale, even collard greens. They are rich in Vitamin K. Do a quick search of the Benefits of Vitamin K and you’ll find out that Vitamin K is an important factor in blood clotting. Leafy Greens are also known for fighting LDL Cholesterols (aka the “bad” cholesterols). One suggestion is to eat two cups of leafy greens a day.
One way to eat them: In a Smoothie with Berries! Berries are also a heart-good food. Combining the two in a smoothie is a refreshing way to help support your heart. Another heart-good smoothie ingredient is Seeds, such as Chia Seeds.
I love fish and I read somewhere that the AHA recommends eating fish at least twice a week. Fish contains Omega-3s, which is a known factor is helping prevent heart disease. Omega-3s can help reduce blood pressure and slow plaque formation in arteries, among other benefits. You’ll want to look for fish high in Omega-3s, as apparently some are higher than others. Luckily two of the most common fish on the market, Salmon and Tuna, are high in Omega-3s. If you’re pregnant you can still enjoy fish, you just need to be more aware of specs and mercury levels than most people.
One way to eat them: Fish fried in Olive Oil. Yep, you guessed it, Olive Oil is another heart-healthy fat. I generally like to make Salmon en Papillote, with lemon and various spices with Olive Oil drizzled over it. Fish en Papillote is a fun and easy way to make a full meal as you can include vegetables within the parchment.
Okay I’m sure this is one everyone knows about, though I see them mostly listed as a healthy weight loss snack because they contain good fats. Almonds may help reduce blood pressure as well as increasing antioxidants in the blood. Almonds may also support healthy blood flow by lowering cholesterol. Healthy blood flow is important not just for the heart but for the whole body as blood carries oxygen throughout your body. The AHA suggests eating about four servings of unsalted nuts a week.
One way to eat them: With Dark Chocolate, of course! Dark Chocolate is also rich in antioxidants and may reduce the chance of having a blood clot. Just beware how much you’re consuming as most dark chocolate can still be high in sugars. Everything is good in portions.
What is your favorite way to be Heart Healthy? Have you concerned yourself with heart health before? How are you planning to be heart aware this month? Do you have a different way of eating any of these foods?