We continue to stay focused on heart health as February, after all, IS the month dedicated to this all important organ, with Valentine’s Day smack in the middle to keep us reminded. We already know how important cardiovascular exercise is for our heart health. Let’s look into some of the foods we should be eating to keep our weight optimal and our heart humming and our arteries clean and high functioning.
Let’s begin but going a LITTLE nutty…and I do mean a LITTLE. Some of the heart healthiest foods we consume are also high in calories, so moderation is the key. Nuts are one of these foods. All are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, protein and fiber but we need to keep our portions small. An ounce of nuts a day can help lower our risk of heart disease as well as diabetes and cancer. One study at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California, found that people who ate nuts daily lost 39 percent more weight than those that didn’t even though their calorie intake was the same. Between 150 and 200 calories in a one ounce serving, consider using nuts as part of a meal instead of snacking on them. You can toss a handful in your salad, (I crush mine with a mallet and sprinkle on my salad) or in your yogurt or oatmeal. The 5 healthiest nuts are said to be pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and brazil nuts.
Since we can only go a LITTLE nutty, let’s also consider these all important, heart healthy foods. Beans, for instance are a great choice. Just one-third of a cup a day of cooked or canned beans can lower your chances of having a heart attack by almost 40%. Spicing up your lunch or dinner with onions and garlic provides an important type of fiber called inulin. This promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the small intestine which helps remove excess LDL or “bad” cholesterol Other great sources of inulin include artichokes and bananas.
Last but not least, let’s talk about one of my favorite foods. It’s gotten a really bad rap through the years, but I still contend that spud is not the bad guy! In fact, a top source of potassium, which offsets the effects of sodium, potatoes are really good guys when it comes to our health. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that consuming twice as much potassium as sodium daily can halve your risk of dying from cardiovasular disease. Most Americans consume only half of the 4,700 mgs recommended daily. One potato contains 900 mgs.
I admit to shying away from the white potato as I got caught up in avoiding the dreaded “whites.” But in my heart I always knew that potatoes were NOT what were making our country obese. If you are concerned about this, do make sure to find your potassium in other veggies and fruits. A banana, for instance, has over 400mgs of potassium.
Take care of your heart health. Go a little nutty and a little bananas! Spice up your foods, keep laughing and say “om”…
I “heart” you all for stopping by today. Get out there and “do what you love–and love what you do!” I know I will be!