Our heart is one of our bodies’ most vital organs. It is one of the first organs to develop in an embryo and is the universal sign of life. It is also the last to stop functioning just before death. Ever since I realize how powerful food is to proper body functioning, I have been on this journey of self-discovery, changing unhealthful habits and learning even more about how to lead a better lifestyle as I go. As I understand, I want to share with others; as the saying goes, “knowledge learned and not shared is knowledge wasted.” So this girl is going to share, share, share and hope that you will be inclined to join me in the quest for healthier and better living.
Today, I want to share a few heart-healthy foods, but before I do that, let me share a little about heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people from most racial and ethnic groups in the United States and the number one cause of death among men. Additionally, it is the second leading cause of death among women, second to cancer. It is common among women from the Pacific Islands and Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hispanic women.
The US government spends billions of dollars on heart care services and medicine annually. So you see that we have a significant problem on our hands. The good news is that this does not have to be the case if we learn to care for our hearts, and to do so, we must make better choices concerning our health. The place to start is with our food; too many of us eat our way to an early grave.
Several foods that are excellent for our hearts are:
- Fresh fruits – Fruits contain fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Avocados – Avocado contains potassium which assists in regulating heart rhythm, blood pressure, and monosaturated fats. Avocados also help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Dark Leafy Greens – These are nutritious and help to reduce blood enzymes (cardiac enzymes, protein in the blood) implicated in heart disease. The greener the leaves, for example, kale, spinach, arugula, and collard, among others.
- Nuts – These are a good source of minerals and monosaturated fats.
- Spices and herbs – These help to digest fat better because they contain antioxidants and phytochemicals.
- Whole Grains – These contain fiber and B vitamins.
- Wheat Germ and flax meals – These help to boost our fiber, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids intake.
- Soy foods – helps to maintain correct blood fat levels and are rich in phytoestrogens.
- Beans and Legumes – Fiber-filled and contains plant protein which helps lower LDL.
- Flaxseed oil – Contains omega -3 fatty acids and helps to lower LDL.
Explanation/definition of terms
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. For example, your liver makes cholesterol, which is also in some foods, such as meat and dairy products.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
Monosaturated fats are fat molecules with one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. For example:
- olive oil,
- canola oil,
- peanut oil,
- safflower oil
- sesame oil.
- Other sources are avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood, lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Phytoestrogen – Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds derived from plants. Phytoestrogen can is found in soybeans and other legumes, including red clover.
Phytochemicals – “These are compounds that are produced by plants (“Phyto” means “plant”) and can be found in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and other plants. Some of these phytochemicals protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer.”
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. For example, our liver makes cholesterol, and is also in some foods, such as meat and dairy products.
Let us decide not to become a statistic by caring for our hearts and body.