- RECIPES BY COURSE
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February is American heart health month, created by the American Heart Association, it reminds us that there are lots of things we can do to stay heart-healthy. Maybe you don’t think about your ticker all that often but according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA):
- Someone in the US has a stroke or heart attack every 40 seconds.
- Heart disease (coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke) is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States
- About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That’s an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.
Scary stuff! Why are we telling you this? Because there’s good news and it comes from the kitchen! Heart disease can often be prevented and reversed by making healthy choices. The AHA and ASA track key health factors and behaviors that are indicators for heart health:
- Not smoking
- Getting physical activity
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
Certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels, and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. This month is a great time to consider crowding out the foods that can contribute to heart disease, like cheese, meat, and eggs…all of which come from animals…and replacing them with healthier, plant-based choices.
Top 10 Heart-Healthy Foods:
- Leafy, green vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, and chard are a few). An important source of vitamin K, these greens can help protect your arteries and have nitrates that can help lower blood pressure. Why not make our Kale and Strawberry Salad tonight?
- Whole grains (oats, quinoa, barley, farro are some) are loaded with fiber which can help lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce systolic blood pressure. This weather calls for a big pot of Mushroom Barley Soup, doesn’t it?
- Berries contain high levels of antioxidants which can lower the inflammation that contributes to the development of heart disease. Start your day with a Barley-Berry Bowl.
- Avocados are a source of healthy, monosaturated fat which can actually lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good (HDL) kind. They are also high in potassium which can lower blood pressure. Have you ever made chocolate mousse from avocados? Wow!
- Nuts and seeds (like almonds, walnuts, hemp, pumpkin, flax, chia, and sunflower) have been shown to provide heart-healthy omega 3 fats, reduce blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. They are also linked to lower inflammation. For something new, try our broccoli, spinach, and hemp seed pesto for a hefty dose of taste and nutrition.
- Beans of all kinds reduce triglycerides, bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. Better make beans your new best friend and try them in this Smoky Three Bean Chili.
- Tomatoes, including canned, contain lycopene which has been shown to increase good cholesterol and lower inflammation. Make a pot of our Spiced Cream of Tomato Soup for something really tasty.
- Garlic contains a compound called allicin which is linked to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure. It may also inhibit blood clots. Consume garlic raw in dressings and sauces, like tahini sauce, or crush it and let it sit for a few minutes before cooking to allow for the formation of allicin which maximizes its potential health benefits. Try our Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup for a healthy dose of garlic.
- Edamame, or green, immature soybeans, contain soy isoflavones which have been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels. Don’t confuse the benefits of whole edamame beans with the soy that’s found in processed foods. Try this crunchy pear salad with edamame.
- Green tea is full of compounds that reduce inflammation and are associated with lower levels of blood pressure and overall cholesterol. Some studies have shown that it helps burn fat, too! Have a cup, hot or cold!
Starting now, love yourself with food from plants, not animals, and you’ll be developing heart-healthy habits that last a lifetime!