It’s February, and t’s American Heart Month. It’s so important to take care of your heart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. While exercise and living a tobacco-free life is crucial, it’s important to note that 25% of heart attacks happen in people who don’t smoke and who have healthy cholesterol levels. There are so many things you can do to help keep your ticker healthy, including adding in some of the following foods.
Berries and Citrus Fruits – Fruit-eaters have been shown to have a lower risk for heart disease. Aim to get three different types of fruit each day. You can include favorites like berries, mangoes, and oranges. Can’t get good, fresh fruit in February? Get some frozen varieties to incorporate into smoothies!
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – EVOO contains antioxidants that combat inflammation and help bring down LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Use it in salad dressings or drizzle over sauteed veggies.
Dark Chocolate – You can thank me for this tidbit! An ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day has been shown to provide health benefits. Cocoa flavanols are the key. Be sure to stick to good quality dark chocolate (we’re not talking Snickers bars here!) Look for chocolate with at least 70% cacao. Want an extra boost? Pair your dark chocolate with berries for a really powerful antioxidant punch!
Fish Oil – Fish has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and sudden death. Eating low-mercury fish such as wild salmon, herring, sardines, or sole, 2 – 3 times a week is best. If you don’t eat that much fish in a week, aim to get 1,000 mg daily of fish oil through a high-quality fish oil supplement.
Wine – You can thank me again here! Studies show that drinking alcohol (in moderation, of course) boosts HDL, or “good” cholestoral. Red wine is especially desirable because it contains resveratrol, which has been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Stick to just one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.
Walnuts – An ounce of walnuts a day will provide you with antioxidant phenols that can improve blood vessel function almost immediately!Toss some crushed walnuts in your morning oatmeal or bake them into my world’s easiest cookie recipe!* Look below!
World’s Easiest Cookie Recipe
These cookies are a staple in my house! I make them almost weekly and they are a huge hit with my family and friends. It’s so easy! Mash up one banana and mix with 1 cup of oatmeal! That’s it! That’s the base. From there, you can add anything you like. Walnuts, as mentioned above, honey to sweeten, a little vanilla, some vegan chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, or a scoop of peanut butter. The possibilities are ENDLESS! Bake your cookies at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a WELL-GREASED cookie sheet. ENJOY!
And until next time, veg in, don’t veg out!
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