Ancient Egyptians believed the heart contained the soul, and before entry into heaven, a person’s heart would be weighed against a feather. Today, we talk about people having heavy hearts or light hearts, but right now, let’s talk about healthy hearts.
From American Heart Association Research
- For every hour of walking you can add 2 hours to your lifespan (Bonus! Exercise also increases brain size and memory)
- For every pound lost you alleviate 4 lb. of pressure from your joints
- Eating 2 servings of fish a week decreases your risk for heart disease by 23%
My rule of thumb is that if it’s from a box, it’s bad for your heart. Pre-packaged, mass-produced foods are created in labs to produce two outcomes:
1) They’ll last forever, packed with hydrogenated oils, trans fats, saturated fats and preservatives. They have to keep crunchy on store shelves, right?
2) To make you want more. They do this by pumping up the salt content.
Please hold the salt
Up to 75% of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed foods – and Americans are eating far too much. Most restaurants also over-salt their food to appeal to the typical American palate. What does all this salt do?
A healthy level of salt is vital. It helps regulate body fluids and blood pressure, and is necessary for muscle function and nerve impulse transmission. Active people who sweat a lot need more sodium.
Too much sodium (and the ADA says Americans typically eat over twice the daily recommended amount) contributes to high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Five Favorite Heart Healthy Foods
- Salmon & Sardines are loaded with Omega 3: good fats that help brain function and keep your LDL low and your HDL high. Wild Salmon and sardines are both low contaminate fish, meaning they don’t have PCB or dioxins (which can be found in farm raised fish). An inexpensive way to get Wild Salmon is to buy it canned. Look for Wild on the label, and if it says Alaskan, it is automatically wild.
- Oatmeal is a soluble fiber which attaches to cholesterol and escorts it out of the body. Don’t muck it up with too much sugar! Add chopped nuts for more Omega 3’s, berries for cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and cinnamon – studies show that cinnamon also lowers LDL.
- Sweet potatoes help manage your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Sweet potato also contains soluble fiber but with the added benefit of Potassium. The trick to lowering blood pressure is to decrease sodium and increase potassium in your diet – and sweet potatoes are the perfect vehicle.
- Nuts are another great source of Omega 3s, but don’t overdo them. They’re calorie-dense, so a few will go a long way. Have a handful of almonds, walnuts, or cashews for a quick healthy snack that won’t spike your insulin (and make you crave more food). And, if you get a can of mixed nuts, know that eating just one of those giant Brazil Nuts fulfills your daily selenium requirement. Research suggests that selenium reduces risk for breast and prostate cancers.
- Wine! My favorite way to wash down a heart-healthy meal is with a glass of red wine. Antioxidants in red wine (such as resveratrol) protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Not a big drinker? Search online for wine flour made from red grape skins (they make terrific brownies).