February is a time we all focus on one of the most important organs in our body: our hearts. To start off this Heart Health Month we’re giving you the best foods for your ticker. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a good list to keep in mind.
This is the “it” green of the moment. I love to throw it in my smoothies in the morning as an easy way to get some more vegetables in my diet. But this leafy food is packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium and vitamin E. A special compound in this vegetable can even help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries.
Liza Muravyeva, MS, RD, LD/N, even added this as a must have in your diet for this year. For a quick and easy (and of course tasty) recipe, give our Game Day Kale Chips you can have any day of the week!
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil may actually help your cholesterol levels, which is one of the leading causes of heart disease. The uniquely composed saturated fat has been found to have no link to increase coronary heart disease or stroke, according to researchers.
Coconut oil is best used as a butter and hydrogenated oil replacement in a balanced diet.
3. Dark Chocolate
I had to include this in my list, of course. But really we’ve known for years the flavonoids found in dark chocolate (let’s say that again DARK chocolate, not milk or white chocolate), can help improve blood vessel flexibility. But don’t think just any dark chocolate candy bar will do. Look for ones with cocao as one of the top, if not the first, ingredient – and then as little extras as possible.
The only thing I don’t like about this seed-heavy fruit is really you can only get it a certain time of year. According to ABC News: “Bringing down LDL is important, but so is preventing the oxidation of that cholesterol. When LDL is oxidized, it tends to get stuck in arterial walls, initiating the formation of plaque. But Michael Aviram, professor of biochemistry at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, found that pomegranate juice, with its unique antioxidants, not only blocked the progression of plaque, but actually reversed some of the buildup when patients drank 8 ounces a day for a year. How does it do this? In later studies, Dr. Aviram learned that pomegranates activate an enzyme that breaks down oxidized cholesterol.”
I’ve put them in oatmeal (see below), but I also love eating a big spoonful at night when a sweet tooth appears.
This fiber rich food can help lower LDL, according to Health Magazine. It’s also a fast and easy morning meal that will keep you feeling full until lunch, especially if you add some coconut oil in it!
So cheers to a healthy ticker and delicious food!
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