Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women and much of the messaging we hear is how lifestyle choices play a significant role in determining whether or not we will develop a heart disease. Improving our diet is one of the important factors recommended; yet in order to put that advice into action we need practical, achievable guidelines. Showing our heart a little love with nutrient dense foods does not have to be restrictive, time-consuming, or take the fun out of the kitchen. Quite the opposite! These 5 heart-healthy foods are delicious, and using the tips provided, they can easily be rotated into our diet on a regular basis.
Celery contains a compound called 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB) that has been studied for its effect on reducing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attack or stroke. And, celery can be incorporated into meals in a number of tasty ways.
How to use celery:
- Chopped in salads
- Spread with nut or seed butter for a snack
- Braised with carrot, cabbage and onions
- Added to a soup, stew or stir fry
The allicin compound in garlic has blood pressure lowering benefits that are well documented in research studies. It is important to leave chopped garlic to sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking or adding any acid ingredient (eg. lemon juice) to allow the enzymes to increase the formation of allicin. Also, consuming raw garlic maximizes the activity of the health promoting sulfur compounds and can easily be included in a variety of dishes.
How to use garlic:
- Blend into dips and salad dressings
- Chop raw into salsa or guacamole
- Use as a base, along with onions, carrots and celery, in soups, stews, curries and casseroles
Broccoli contains sulforaphane that may prevent and reverse blood vessel damage from blood sugar problems. Broccoli is often a staple dinner vegetable in many households, as kids love it! Some unique ways to serve broccoli are below.
How to use broccoli:
- In a pureed soup
- As part of a breakfast omelet
- Combined with other vegetables and oven roasted
- In a raw salad with sliced cabbage, onion and a creamy dressing
Flaxseeds contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that reduce blood pressure. They are also a very good source of fibre, and a high-fibre diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Flaxseeds should be ground to access the benefits of the insoluble fibre, including the protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
How to use flaxseeds:
- Bake a grain-free flax bread
- Blend a delicious seed milk
- Hide it in baking, oatmeal, applesauce or meatballs
- Use it as a coating for chicken fingers or fish sticks
- Blend them into a smoothie
Vitamin C deficiency plays a role in heart disease risk and berries are an excellent source of vitamin C and flavanoids; both of which are powerful anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In addition, clinical research indicates that pomegranate can help unclog arteries.
How to use berries:
- Eat them on their own!
- Use them to sweeten smoothies, oatmeal or chia puddings
- Make them the base for a berry crisp
- Use in a homemade jam
Select some of these heart-healthy foods and share them with friends and family (because their hearts are important too!). They say it takes a village to raise a child…I think it takes one to raise a healthy heart too!