The ‘heart’ on Valentine’s Day
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share the history behind this day, as well as offer a list of foods to keep your heart healthy. Although there are several legends as to how Valentine’s Day came about, one particular legend emphasizes Saint Valentine and his advocacy of marriage.
During his time on earth (dating back to the third century in Rome), Saint Valentine was a priest and advocate of marriage. However, Emperor Claudius II’s was not a supporter of marriage and actually ruled that young men who served as soldiers should not be married. The reason for this ruling was because Emperor Claudius II did not think men could be effective soldiers carrying emotional family attachments. Despite the ruling, Saint Valentine did not change his ways and kept performing marriages privately to Christian couples. As a result, Emperor Claudius II ruled that he be sentenced to death. Sadly, Saint Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD and this is why we pay tribute to his legacy on Valentine’s Day every year.
Now, since the heart is fundamental to human life and how we express our love for one another, let’s further examine how simply eating certain foods can keep your heart ‘beating like a champ.’ To begin, let’s consider this statistic – 70% of all heart diseases can be avoided if we incorporate certain foods into our diets. That’s a pretty impressive statistic huh?
Family friendly fat burning meals
The elements in certain foods
Next, would you rather know the actual elements (found in certain foods) that are responsible for keeping the heart healthy instead of just a list of foods? Personally, I enjoy playing ‘detective’ and discovering why or how something works. With this being said, these are the elements in food capable of supporting a healthy/disease-free heart: allicin, catechin, fiber, flavonoids, hesperidin, isoflavones, monounsaturated fats (good fats), omega-3 fatty acids, pectin, polyphenols, potassium, procyanidins, resveratrol, and selenium.
Next, catechin and flavonoids (both found in green tea) are antioxidants that decrease arterial inflammation and prevent platelets from sticking together in the blood. In turn, the probability of developing blood clots, along with high blood pressure is reduced. Furthermore, the formation of blood clots is further diminished with monounsaturated fats (good fats) which can be found in olive oil.
Thirdly, fiber, a leading ingredient in many foods, is most predominately found in broccoli, cauliflower, and whole grains. With that being said, it is very beneficial to cardiac health since it can tidy up and moderate cholesterol levels. While, hesperidin (found in oranges) is a compound in plants that enhances circulation returning back to the heart. Lastly, isoflavones (found in soy milk) and monounsaturated fats (found in avocados) aid in lowering cholesterol.
We’ve all heard that Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is good for us, but why? Well, to begin with, they enhance metabolic markers (identifiers of biochemical processes within us that indicate an organism’s overall health) that determine our risk of heart disease. In addition, they boost HDL or “good” cholesterol numbers, decrease the probability of developing an acute heart attack with a history of attacks, and stave off arrhythmia. As for common foods for omega-3 fatty acid consumption, try wild salmon, fresh sardines, unsalted almonds, and walnuts.
Subsequently, pectin (a type of soluble fiber and found in apples and oranges) keeps the body from retaining cholesterol and thus, reducing cholesterol. As for polyphenols (also found in apples), they protect cholesterol from the invasion of free-radicals. In addition, they possibly heighten the amount of nitric oxide which aids in dilating blood vessels and thus, lessens hypertension.
Continuing on, potassium (most notably found in bananas and raisins) reduces high blood pressure, builds up resilient antioxidants, stabilizes heart performance, and adjusts the levels of sodium and water accordingly.
The last three elements (procyanidins, resveratrol, and selenium) either lower cholesterol (procyanidins – Cabernet red wine), shelter the body against damage which can make you more susceptible to heart disease (resveratrol – found in dark berries, grapes, and red wine), or an antioxidant that supports safeguarding the cardiovascular system (selenium – wild salmon).
So there you have a brief explanation on the elements in food that generate a heart healthy food list. To recap, these foods include cauliflower, green tea, olive oil (extra virgin is healthiest), broccoli, whole grains (preferably gluten-free), oranges, soy milk, avocados, wild salmon, fresh sardines, unsalted almonds, walnuts, apples, bananas, raisins, red wine (Cabernet’s are best), dark berries, and grapes.
By implementing these foods into your diet, you are giving your heart the best chance of remaining strong for years to come! Crazy as it sounds, something as simple as eating foods we already enjoy can help you live a healthier and longer life! With that being said, here’s to living your best life ever! Feel free to leave me a comment or any insight you may have on the topic of heart healthy foods.
Eatingwell.com. (2018). Our Top 15 Heart-Healthy Foods. [online] Available at: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/15297/our-top-15-heart-healthy-foods/ [Accessed 15 Feb. 2018].
Hastings, D. (2018). The 25 Best Foods For Your Heart. [online] Prevention.com. Available at: https://www.prevention.com/health/best-foods-for-heart-health/slide/25 [Accessed 15 Feb. 2018].
Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, K. (2004). Top 10 Heart-Healthy Foods. [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/top-10-heart-healthy-foods [Accessed 15 Feb. 2018].