Heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Peaches and Plums

Foods For Breast Health

We ladies sure seem to obsess about out breasts. We enlarge them, reduce them, push them up, plunge them down, stick adhesives on them, pad them, powder them, rouge them, pamper them and scent them with perfumes and after bath sprays. We even do exercises at the gym to keep them at their peak. But do we make sure they are getting proper nutrition? Maybe not.

We owe a lot to our breasts, and we know what can happen if we don’t take care of them, and usually that care entails a lot more than just picking the right bra. Cheryl L. Rock, Ph.D, RD, professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California says, “A woman can cut her chance of cancer by as much as two-thirds with good nutrition and weight management.” If you are concerned with the health of your breasts, here are some foods that might help you out with that.

Peaches and Plums
According to researchers at Texas A and M, peaches and plums have levels of antioxidants that pose a threat to the celebrated superfruits known as blueberries. The two p’s contain two varieties of polyphenols, antioxidants that may help to destroy breast cancer cells while leaving healthier cells intact.

Walnuts
Research in the Nutrition and Cancer Journal suggest that walnuts may help to impede the spread of breast cancer. Studies on mice found that the rate of tumor growth in walnut -eating mice was half of that in a group that was not fed walnuts. Experts believe that it is the anti-inflammatory properties in walnuts that give them the ability to fight tumors.

Broccoli
Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a compound shown to reduce breast cancer stem cells in mice, according to the University of Michigan. Although it is unclear whether the amount found in broccoli is sufficient enough to have the same effect, make sure to get the most of it by eating broccoli raw or steaming or stir frying. Boiling can lower the level of sulforaphane.

Salmon
Fish oil supplements are known for their cancer fighting characteristics. Ten years of regular consumption can shrink risk the of ductal carcinoma, the most commonly found type of breast cancer. Omega-3 fats in fish oil prevent inflammation, a known contributor to breast cancer. However, if you eat about 8 ounces of fish like salmon daily, you can skip the supplements.

Coffee
Need another reason to go to Starbucks? A May 2011 study in Breast Cancer Research finds that drinking two twelve oz cups a day can lower great cancer risk. According to study author, Jingmei Li, Ph.D, “One possibility is that coffee’s antioxidants protects cells from damage that can lead to cancer.” However, these findings are not confirmed, so you may want to wait until you become a fixture at your local coffee house.

Beans
You know what they say about beans- the more you eat…. the more your risk of breast cancer decreases. A new report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increasing fiber intake can lower the likelihood of great cancer. The research found that eating 10 grams of fiber a day (about 1/2 cup of beans) decreases risk of breast cancer by 7%.

So the next time your spending money on your lovely assets, you may want to do it in the grocery store. Let us know what you’re doing to support your breast health. We love to hear it!

Woman showing a healthy heart

Heart Healthy Recipes

Following a heart-healthy diet doesn’t mean cutting flavor from your dishes, in fact increasing the amount of herbs you use while decreasing sodium can actually bring more flavor and excitement to the meals you prepare. We’ve rounded up three of our favorite heart-healthy recipes that are quick to prepare and that don’t require expert level culinary skills.

Salmon with vegetables.

Salmon with Grape Tomatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1 pt grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Black pepper (cracked or ground)
  • 1 skinless salmon filet

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss together the garlic, green beans, grape tomatoes and olives with one tablespoon of olive oil and add black pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables coated vegetables to a large baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon filet with Himalayan pink salt and black pepper. Place salmon in skillet and cook until golden brown and opaque throughout, about four to five minutes per side. Move vegetables and salmon to a serving dish and enjoy.

Turkey soup

Turkey and Kale Soup with Quinoa and Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 (14 oz) cans vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot, then add turkey, garlic and onion. Cook over medium heat until onion is soft and turkey is browned. Add sage and rosemary and stir to combine, but do not allow herbs to brown. Pour vegetable broth, water, garbanzo beans and tomato paste into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add kale and quinoa. Simmer until kale is tender and quinoa is cooked. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti With Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz whole grain spaghetti
  • 6 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh herbs of your choice, chopped (we recommend basil, rosemary and chives)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to top

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook pasta according to directions on package. When done, drain and return to pot. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cherry tomatoes with garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place tomatoes in oven and roast, tossing once, until they begin to burst, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs and one tablespoon olive oil. Grate or shave Parmigiano Reggiano on top just before serving.

These three heart-healthy recipes are absolutely perfect for beginners and won’t have you standing in the kitchen all night to prepare a healthy, delicious meal. Experiment with different vegetables and herbs to add even more flavor to your heart-healthy foods.

Various spices in bowls and spoons

Eat Well: Foods for a Peaceful Life

Most of our lives are lived at a breakneck speed rushing from one commitment to another. Sometimes, it seems that the last thing we have time for is to eat mindfully and for our physical health. However, eating not only helps improve our physical health, it truly does affect your mood. A diet high in sugar, fat and junk tend to leave you susceptible to mood swings as your body goes from sugar to sugar crash throughout the day. Not only does your mood fluctuate, but poor diet has been linked to anxiety disorders, depression and lack of energy. Check out the following tips on choosing foods for a more peaceful life.

Large cup of coffee with coffee beansDrink Your Coffee
Sure, energy drinks and soda are quick, convenient and available everywhere. And in the short term, they seem to be awesome because caffeine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain which increase clarity and focus. However, with the caffeine boost from sugar laden drinks also comes with a mood busting sugar crash. However, you don’t have to go without caffeine, simply switch to coffee. A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health survey found that women who drank at least two cups of coffee daily were at a 15% lower chance of suffering from depression. Additionally, coffee contains plant-based nutrients that work in the body in a manner similar to how anti-depressants work. Like anything, coffee should be enjoyed in moderation as too much stimulation can lead to anxiety and trouble sleeping.

Salmon dish with side salad Scarf Some Salmon
Today, people are pretty programmed to avoid fatty foods, but a little bit of fat can go a long way in improving your mood. However, your diet is probably significantly lacking omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish, such as salmon, is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain contains more omega-3 fatty acids than anywhere else in your body. Research supports the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a part of psychiatric treatment. These may help even out moods and decrease depression. Experts suggest that you aim for two to three servings of salmon (or other oily fish such as sardines or mackerel) per week.

Carved turkeyGobble up Some Turkey
You know that you tend to feel drowsy after a big Thanksgiving meal and you most likely know that the turkey is the cause. Turkey contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that the body does not produce on its own. Tryptophan is important because the body requires tryptophan in order to make the feel-good chemical, serotonin. Experts recommend ingesting about 320 milligrams of trytophan each day. A four ounce serving of turkey or chicken is plenty to receive your daily amount. If you aren’t a big fan of turkey, or you’re vegetarian/vegan, you can find the same amount (320mg) of tryptophan in one cup of soybeans.

Bowl of spanish Eat Your Spinach
Eating spinach may not result in the immediate muscle-boosting strength that Popeye got, but it does significantly impact your mood. Spinach is high in the B vitamin, folate. Research shows that when you have a high concentration of folate in your blood, you are less prone to bad moods, clinical depression and you think more clearly. In just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach (or 2 cups raw) women receive 33% of the recommended daily allowance of folate. An important thing to note is that folate is water-soluble, which means that you do not store it in your body. Because it isn’t stored, you need to consume it continuously to reap the zen benefits.

Various spices in bowls and spoons Spice up Your Life
Besides not being good for you, lots of salt on food as the sole flavoring can get boring. Instead, experiment with different spices to create dishes that will blow your mind. One of the most highly touted spices is tumeric. The reason experts advise tumeric is that it contains curcumin, which gives tumeric it’s signature yellow color and acts as a natural anti-depressant. Some preliminary research suggests that curcumin also lowers levels of chronic stress and that it also stimulates the release of both serotonine and dopamine.

Foods are not only meant to nourish your body, but to nourish your mind. Improve your mood while keeping stress levels at bay by chowing down on some of these super good mood foods.