February Is Heart Health Month.
The more you know. February has officially been baptized as heart health month. During these 28-29 days and for the whole entire year for that matter, it’s time to show yourself the love. Contrary to what you might think, heart disease affects more women than men. In fact, surprising as this may sound, heart disease and stroke kill more women worldwide than do all cancers combined. In Canada alone, heart disease and stroke cost us 33 000 beautiful lives per year. Plus, studies have shown that women are most likely to die following a stroke. The good news? According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours, meaning you can protect your love machines! In our books, prevention is the best medicine, so here are but a few foods for a healthy heart (remember, what matters is the overall ensemble of what you eat, not just adding in the foods mentioned below):
1. Steel-cut oats.
Steel-cut oats may require a tad more patience to whip up than instant oats but their chewy texture is well worth it (the ratio for making these is 1 cup steel-cut oats for 2 cups of water). On their own, steel-cut oats may not be super impressive, but dress them up to the nines with fun garnishes like nut butters, cocoa powder, nuts (like chopped walnuts), seeds (like hemp, flax or chia), fresh, frozen or dried fruits, herbs or spices (like cinnamon) and/or chocolate chips. Combination possibilities are endless. Oats love your heart because they are a source of soluble fiber which naturally helps keep cholesterol levels in check.
People tend to associate fat with the devil when in actual fact, some types of fat can act as a guardian angel. Walnuts contain such healthy fats, called omega-3 fats, which are cardioprotective. When sufficient amounts of omega-3 fats are consumed, they help lower the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, naturally reduce blood pressure and can slow down the buildup of plaque in blood vessels. Add walnuts to oatmeal, salads, chia puddings and brownies 😉
3. Black beans and red kidney beans.
These legumes contain B-complex vitamins, niacin, folic acid, magnesium, calcium and soluble fiber – all heart-healthy nutrients. Stir ’em into soups or chillies or use them to add protein to your salads.
4. Dark chocolate or cocoa powder.
Both of these contain resveratrol (the same compound found in red wine famous for being a good bodyguard to the heart) and heart-helping flavonoids known as cocoa phenols. What’s more, dark chocolate contains a significant amount of magnesium which helps maintain our heart’s rhythm and contributes to the proper functioning of our heart muscles. Some dark chocolate every day keeps the doctor away. Or an apple dipped in dark chocolate a day keeps the doctor away. Either works 🙂 .
5. Green tea (especially matcha green tea).
Contains epigallocatechin gallate (maybe don’t try memorizing that word 😉 ), which is a potent antioxidant that helps out your ticker. If green tea isn’t your cup of tea (tee-hee), try jasmine, ginger or citrus flavoured green tea as the green tea’s taste isn’t as noticeable.
On your mark, get set, love your heart!