Time for some ticker talk so we don’t have ticker shock! Stress, lack of sleep, food choices and physical activity can definitely take a toll, so as February is American Heart Month, let’s talk about ways to be kind to your heart every day!
Why does it matter?
We hear the terms cholesterol, good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides. What are they? Cholesterol is produced by the liver and used to build cells as well as to make vitamins and hormones. When our cholesterol levels are too high, the risk of heart disease increases. Of note, there are different types of cholesterol ( LDL- low density lipoprotein (bad) and HDL- high density lipoprotein(good) . Triglycerides are blood fats. None of us will have levels of zero, but the goal is to keep these numbers within normal range.
There are a lot of myths surrounding foods for a healthy heart.
Avoid foods that are high in dietary cholesterol. It is perfectly fine to eat the whole egg, not just the whites, and also shellfish and liver. Dietary cholesterol has minimal impacts on blood cholesterol levels.
Plant foods contain cholesterol. WRONG! You may have seen labels on bananas or mushrooms stating they are cholesterol free. That is true. They never had cholesterol and never will because they are plants!
Coconut oil is good for you. Coconut oil is a saturated fat and eating a lot of it can increase LDL cholesterol levels.
Fat-free is the way to go. There are many healthy fats including olive oil, nuts, seeds, nut butter, and avocado as well as the fats in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts. Choosing low or no-fat versions of nut butter may actually increase your sugar intake which is not good for your cholesterol or triglycerides.
Red wine is good for heart health. A little goes a long way. A 5-ounce pour of wine is fine, a bottle, not so much. More is not better when it comes to triglycerides.
A Heart-Healthy plate that tastes great
Here is a picture of heart-healthy foods.
Leafy greens and whole grains such as farro, oatmeal, and oat cereal. Soluble fiber from oats, potatoes, beans, fruits such as citrus and apples, and vegetables. Anthocyanins in red grapes, pomegranate juice, and berries. Omega-3 fats from sardines, salmon, flaxseed meal, and walnuts. Healthy fats in olive oil, avocado, and nuts such as pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, etc. And of course dark chocolate for the flavanols. The focus should be on what to include rather than exclude. I love the idea of a dish that incorporates many heart-healthy foods.
Here is Jen Saffron’s (owner of Sprezzatura) greens and beans
- Cannellini beans
- Olive oil
A delight in every bite!
So many of my clients feel that they have to eliminate all the goodies from their plate when they are trying to be kind to their heart. Here is a recipe that tastes delicious but also provides heart-healthy benefits.
- 1 cup melted dark chocolate ( at least 60% cacao) bar or chips
- 1 cup creamy or crunchy ( my fav) peanut butter
- 1 cup finely chopped prunes
- 1.5 cups crushed high fiber cereal such as Fiber one, Bran Buds, All Bran
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon grated orange peel
Mix all ingredients together. Roll into small balls or press into a candy mold and refrigerate until set.
Cheers to heart health from the #wealthonyourshelf