Anyway, moving on.....
February is heart health awareness month. And since I am the proud mama of 2 minis with a congenital heart defect and a 3rd mini with a heart that I am convinced is made of gold, I thought I would focus on heart healthy foods for the next days.
There are several foods that doctors, homeopaths, personal trainers, dieticians, nutritionists, blogging moms and really hot celebrities all agree should be a part of everyone's heart-healthy diet, and lucky you....I made a list!
- berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc)
- tea (green or black)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 banana (I freeze brown bananas and they are perfect for smoothies)
- 5 strawberries
- 1/2 cup yogurt (please use plain, I used my homemade yogurt)
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend until desired consistency is reached.
Now, I want everyone to raise their right hand and repeat after me, "Heids McGhee, for you, I will try this next smoothie recipe. And then I will tell everyone to come to your blog and get the recipe because I agree that America should start its morning with raw spinach."
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (again, I used homemade)
- 1 cup milk (I use skim, you can use soy, almond, whatever your choice is)
- 1 large handful of raw baby spinach
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend.
This smoothie is so tasty, the minis and I love it. And, honestly, how bad-ass is it to start your day out drinking raw spinach? You will have serious swagger. You will probably develop a "dude, I drink raw spinach for breakfast" look that you can shoot to random irritating people throughout the day. Brilliant!
So, what it is about these foods that are so stellar? Good question, and lucky for you, I know the answer!
Berries are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants is one of those buzz-words that you are hearing everywhere, but do you really know what they are? Your body is subjected to free radicals daily (from our environment, stress, medication, processed food). When a free radical gets into your body, it will attack your body's organs and tissues in order to neutralize itself, and in doing that it causes damage to whatever it has attacked. Free radical damage leads to chronic diseases and inflammation....one of the big ones being heart-disease. So, eat your berries.
Pomegranates are also loaded with antioxidants. One of these antioxidants prevents damage to your arteries caused by LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), while raising the healthy HDL cholesterol. Pomegranate juice also acts as a natural coagulent, which means that it prevents blood from forming clots. And, recent study shows, that pomegranate juice improves the amount of oxygen that reaches your heart muscles and lowers blood pressure. Pomegranates also have been shown to treat arthritis pain, lunch cancer, influenza, several cancers, Alzheimer's and control diabetes. I like to drink pomegranate juice all day with my fizzy water and I love putting pomegranate seeds on my spinach salads.
Yogurt is good for your GI tract because it promotes the growth of good bacteria that keeps things running smoothly. A recent study showed that 2-3 servings of dairy caused a 50% reduction in high blood pressure and now yogurt is part of the DASH diet that clinicians use to manage high blood pressure. Stick with plain (and try greek for additional protein), the flavored yogurts have a scary amount of added sugar. You can always sweeten up plain yogurt...my minis love theirs with frozen raspberries, and I love mine with mashed banana and honey.
Calorie for calorie, spinach is the most nutrient-dense food you can eat and is filled with powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent the free-radical damage of cholesterol. When free radicals damage the cholesterol in your body, it becomes sticky and sticky cholesterol clogs your arteries. Spinach is also contains magnesium which helps keep blood pressure healthy. Spinach also contains folate, which helps convert stroke-inducing chemicals into harmless compounds in your body. And, did you know that a salad size portion of spinach works to lower your blood pressure within hours. Dude, that is way cool!
Ground flaxseed is something I toss into smoothies, yogurt, granola bars, cookies, bread, etc. Ground flax is rich in fiber, which we discussed weeks ago. Flaxseed contains omega-3s, which your body uses to produce prostoglandins. Prostoglandins are used to regulate metabolism, central nervous system, immune system, and inflammatory response. Now remember, when your body's inflammatory response is inflammed you will get heart disease, so keeping this response tightly regulated is so important. Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, which give you anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer health benefits.
Alright, I think that's enough information for today. I am speaking from the heart here (no pun intended, but that was just way too easy) when I ask you to please try these recipes or come up with your own ways to incorporate these foods into your diet. Take care of your ticker and enjoy a lifetime of good health!