Updated: Feb 7, 2022
What a great month! February can be the start of a new year and giving your heart a great gift. It is National Heart Awareness Month. Join me as we think about ways that we can rejuvenate it, oil it, and give it a tune up to keep ticking for another year. There are numerous gifts to give~Wholesome Food, Sleep, Hydration, Exercise, Stressing Less, Balancing Hormones, and the list goes on. But for today let's focus on being an Empowered Eater that would like to give our hearts a BIG hug and a great year long gift.
So what gifts are in your fridge? What gifts are in your pantry? What gifts are in your freezer? OH! What gifts are in your garden??? Does anything come to mind right off. Yes!! Whole foods, rich in natural colors, packed full of nutrients that will aid my heart all year long is what I would say.
Lets dive a little deeper into some specifics. Do you have your meals or snacks full of fresh vegetables and fruits? Are you preparing them in a way that you can gift your heart with the most benefits~ Maybe it is eating raw, steaming or sauteing until crisp tender, or just roasting some root vegetables? Have you ever thought that fresh produce might aid your body in lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease/stroke, or the positive effects it has upon your blood sugar levels that could affect long term heart health? That's a lot to think about, but some very important thoughts as you begin your meal planning each day. It's important to look at the natural colors that produce have and how it could affect your heart. Have you ever thought natural red, yellow and orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, cherry tomatoes or butternut squash may be packed full of carotenoids, fiber and vitamins that your heart would love. Oh and green veggies we can't leave them out! Well maybe the old saying about Popeye was right ― spinach packs a punch! Could kale, Swiss chard, collards/mustard greens, or leaf lettuce do the same as spinach? Let's turn the tide and think about fruits. Blueberries, strawberries and goji come to mind. Thanks to their flavonoids they offer, which could potentially lower blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. The thoughts that strawberries and blueberries also contain high levels of anthocynanins that may help widen the arteries and prevent plaque buildup makes me think that would be a great snack gift! So when it comes to produce that you prepare, the colors and the selections can all be very important elements to remember.
What do you do when you awaken in the morning? Starting your morning maybe drinking some lemon juice in your water would be a healthy habit and good for your heart. Lemon is known to reduce blood cholesterol levels which is a great gift and it could help the artieries by preventing oxidative damage. Or another choice during the day may be a glass of pomegranate juice. Not only does the juice appear to prevent hardening of the arteries by reducing blood vessel damage, but the antioxidant-rich juice may also reverse the progression of the disease. It may be gift worth looking into for your heart. So not only is produce in whole forms a great gift but the gifts of whole food juices can be as well.
Oh no is that bread stale? Stale or not is bread a good gift from your pantry? Is it whole grain or is it bleached white flour. Remember all three parts of whole grains provide fiber that keeps arteries healthy. Many people say OATS may be the best. But I may have an even better one. Not to replace oats but to maybe rotate with your oats because our bodies love varied gifts. QUINOA. It happens to be related to beets, chard and spinach which we already know are great gifts. A 2017 study in the Journal of Nutraceuticals and Food Science determined that compared to other cereals, which people around the world rely upon for macronutrients, quinoa has more protein and a greater balance of essential amino acids. Nutritionally, it resembles milk protein more than cereals like wheat, corn and barley. It also surpasses cereals in amounts of dietary fiber, lipids, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E. But guess what its not really a grain its a seed like millet but has a fluffy nutty flavor. Millet may be the healthies of all as its very alkiline in its makeup making the environment for the heart just what it wants. But you may have to do some talking to those taste buds to switch from unbleached bread to millet.
I know you may be thinking, but produce, whole grains are blaw in their taste. Not really just give those taste buds a talking to for a couple of weeks and see if they don't come around. Hopefully they will but if not there are some great natural additives you might try to aid those taste buds in the gifts you want to give. Try adding in some herbs with you meal prepping. Maybe some cinnamon, garlic, cayenne pepper, or ginger. That heart of yours may really like those. Maybe try seeing what your personal taste buds would like. It may be those suggested here or maybe a few different ones like turmeric. Just check into yourself.
Well to end our short list lets hit the Sweet Gift. Sugar, well I am not so sure that would be the best gift but Honey sure may be an option to look into. It may aid in lowering blood pressure and improve blood fat levels, Honey is even thought to assist in regulating your heartbeat, and preventing the death of healthy cells, Hmm. that may be worth checking into.
Hopefully as you start looking in your pantry or glancing in the fridge/freezer you take a moment to think about what gifts you are giving your heart through each and every meal, snack or drink. Your body is worth you giving it the best gifts you can. Weather its digging in the soil and planting those summer tomatoes to enjoy during the hot season or your selections at the grocery to select the whole foods that you can prepare to make for your unique body. Remember the gift your body needs may be different than someone else's. So tailor your edible gifts to your heart and body so you can soar with the best pumping heart.