February is American Heart Month and tomorrow, February 2nd is National Wear Red Day, in hopes of raising awareness for Women and Heart Disease Prevention. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Heart disease is classified as any heart condition that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. These can be anything from Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, congenital heart disease, Arrhythmia, and more. You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:
- Watch your weight.
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Manage stress.
- Get active and eat healthy.
Eating healthy plays an important role in not only in watching your weight, but can only help with cholesterol, blood pressure and an overall healthy lifestyle! This can be a first start to prevention.
Here are some heart-healthy foods to look out for and incorporate into your diet:
Salmon: According to the Mayo Clinic, Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol. But the main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.
Walnuts: In an article on Webmd.com, Nibbling on 5 ounces of nuts each week may cut your risk of heart disease in half. Walnuts have lots of “good” fats. When you use these monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats (such as butter), you cut your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol.
Berries: According to studies, berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries) are loaded with polyphenols — antioxidants that basically soak up damage-causing free radicals in your body. They also deliver fiber and vitamin C, which are both linked to a lower risk of stroke.
Oatmeal: If you start your day out with oatmeal, you are getting a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Oats are fiber-rich and can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Avocados: Avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. Avocados are also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. If that wasn’t enough reason to eat them, they provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids!
Pomegranate: According to Health Magazine, pomegranates contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. One study of heart disease patients found that a daily dose of pomegranate juice over three months showed improvements in blood flow to the heart.
Potatoes: As long as they aren’t fried, potatoes actually have a lot of health benefits. Potatoes are cholesterol-free and have zero saturated fat and diets low in both may reduce risk of heart disease. Potatoes are also rich in potassium (which can help lower blood pressure), low in sodium, a good source of fiber (which can lower the risk for heart disease), and a good source of both Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
If all that made you hungry, I’ve got a few of recipes that include some heart-healthy foods mentioned above that will help get you started on the road to good heart-healthy nutrition this month!
Two of the highest ORAC superfruits are blueberries and acai berries. This smoothie combines them both into a single, nutrient-balanced and delicious drink that is a great breakfast or even a post-workout meal replacement.
Blueberries are excellent for the skin and acai berries are known for their super-high antioxidant power, and as we’ve learned, may reduce the risk of heart disease. I’ve also included some monounsaturated fats (healthy fats) and great-tasting egg white protein to keep you full longer. Enjoy!
Acai-Blueberry Anti-Aging Smoothie
- 1 cup organic blueberries, frozen
- 1 scoop protein powder, Jay Robb’s egg white
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup acai berry juice
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 10 ice cubes
This new spin on fries is super high-presentation and surprisingly easy. No peeling necessary. You can even bring these as a super easy, heart-healthy Super Bowl snack this weekend to your party – no deep frying with these fries!
Purple and Sweet Potato Fries with Herb Dip
- 1lb purple potatoes (or sweet potatoes if you cannot find purple)
- 1lb sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
- sea salt
- cooking spray
- 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley
This recipe is super quick and easy and who doesn’t love a creamy, fruity treat? Plus, it’s combined with heart-healthy berries – you can’t go wrong!
Better yet – with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, it is high in animal-friendly protein.
Wild Berry Yogurt
- 3/4 cups low fat cottage cheese (or Greek Yogurt)
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 Small banana, sliced
- 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
Don’t forget to wear red tomorrow to raise awareness For Women and Heart Disease Prevention. You can make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives!
You can learn more about heart disease online here.
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” Nathaniel Branden