Protect Your Heart. Literally!

The Heart.  We can love deeply from the bottom of it or experience breath-taking heartache.  We follow our heart. Our home is where the heart is. It beats, it can bleed, it can palpitate, it endures happiness & sadness.  It communicates with our brain via > 40,000 neurons that sense, feel, learn and remember.  But how do we take care of this extraordinary organ, literally?

The CDC predicts an alarming one in four people will die from heart disease this year and estimates that someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds in the US.  Every 90 seconds someone dies from a heart related disease making it the leading cause of death in the world.  It is estimated that over 80 million in the US suffer with some form of heart disease.  Inflammation, infections, poor immunity, obesity, diabetes, over-eating, hypertension, physical & emotional stress are primary contributors to heart disease.  I come with good news, heart disease CAN be prevented with a little love.

One way to love your heart is by finding creative ways to incorporate bitter flavors into meal planning; this flavor strengthens the heart, improves immunity and digestion.  Some suggestions include eating kale, parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, arugula, endive, artichoke, rosemary, ginger, pure cocao, citrus fruit or dandelion.  Yes, I’m referring to that pesky super-food weed in our backyard.  If munching on this isn’t appealing, try brewing a cup of dandelion tea.

There are an array of foods that make the heart happy and prevent disease. Garlic lowers blood pressure, reduces LDL & triglycerides and prevents infection. Wild blueberries, pomegranate seeds & cranberries prevent oxidation, improve immune function, ward off built up of plaque & preserve capillaries. Wild salmon reduces clotting & inflammation while improving mood & energy levels.   Ironically, numerous red foods that may even mimic the appearance of the heart play a role in heart health, these include: tart cherries, tomatoes, strawberries, beets, kidney beans, red lentils, red potatoes, apples & watermelon.

Loading the heart up with lots of sugary treats can promote inflammation and decrease immunity so this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to love your own heart and your loved ones in a creative yet healthful way.  Nourish the heart with a scrumptious healthy meal, a little dark chocolate for dessert and indulge in some sweetness by doing things that make you happy, connect with your community, hug people, have a heart to heart conversation,  take a walk in the sunshine, hold hands, forgive, listen with compassion and find gratitude.

Love your heart and it will take good care of you for a long time!


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