Heart to…Heart…

Chris Rouse

Chris Rouse

February is the month of the heart.  The heart in love, the heart in health; both are important and can have a magnanimous affect on ones, living, on one’s life.  We rejoice when our heart is filled with love, so shall we rejoice when our heart is healthy.   The Love received from a man or women warms the heart; God’s Love warms the heart and sustains the soul.

Having a healthy heart is just as important as having a healthy relationship. Furthermore, when the whole person is in good working order you feel much better about yourself.  Essentially you thoroughly enjoy who you are and how you feel projects outward; this feeling can easily transcend to your mate.  This is the month of the heart in love and the heart in health.  We’ve become so focused on our outer appearance that sometimes we forget what gives us the ability to even be conscious of how we look and or appear to ourselves and to others.  Without the heart there is no life!!   Let’s do all we can to ensure that our hearts are healthy and  able to  receive and enjoy the love that’s waiting for us….

 Wining and Dining the HeartI was reading an article online (WebMD) and in it the writer, a doctor of course, outlined the benefits that chocolate and wine provide to our heart.  If you don’t drink wine, you’ve gotta love chocolate, who doesn’t.

Some researchers suggest that red wine may offer extra health benefits. It contains compounds, such as flavonoids and resveratrol, that may help to limit hardening of the arteries. Drinking red wine may boost levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.  One to two drinks a day have shown to increase HDL by about 12%, according to the American Heart Association.  The extra HDL can help to remove bad “LDL” cholesterol, meaning that there’s less of the material to contribute to the fatty plaque inside arteries.  If you do drink alcohol the American Heart Association urges moderation; no more than one or two drinks per day. If you don’t drink, the American Heart Association does not advocate starting in order to prevent heart disease, especially when you can take so many other preventive measures. #IF YOU DON’T DRINK DON’T START!!   For those of you who do not recognize the acronyms HDL and LDL, it’s time for you have your cholesterol levels checked!!!!

Now on to the sweet taste of Chocolate…OOOOh I am inside your head, such thoughts!  No, I am referring to Dark Chocolate, Candy, if you will. Dark chocolate and cocoa are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids.  Research suggest that eating flavonoid-rich chocolate helps to keep blood vessels healthier by improving their ability to expand.  One small study showed that eating high-flavonoid dark chocolate daily helped high blood pressure patients lower their blood pressure and reduce LDL.  Patients who ate white chocolate got no beneficial effects. Eating chocolate in moderation is fine, over indulging can lead to extra calories which leads to weight gain.  The overall message:  Everything in Moderation, including Moderation.

 In keeping with the spirit of a healthy heart I’ll share some foods that promote a healthy heart. I’ve often spoke of being a vegetarian and I  love most green leafy vegetables with spinach being one of my favorite:

 Spinach, Popeye (dating myself) knew firsthand the value of eating spinach.  Hands down, spinach is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom.  Its rich, dark color comes from the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.

 In a sauce pan mix spinach with  minced garlic, a little olive oil, steam then sprinkle with jucie from a fresh lemon for a great potato topper or as a healthy side compliment.

Salmon is a great source of protein and is also packed with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  The American Heart Association advises eating salmon and other omega-3 rich foods  twice a week for benefits that go beyond heart health.

 Marinate salmon in soy, lime, onion and garlic, for 15 minutes, grill for a delicious fish taco or bake and serve with brown rice and sautéed spinach.

Oatmeal,  not my favorite, to be honest I do not like oatmeal at all, but oats are nourishing whole grains and a great source of vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol-lowering fiber. Research shows oats lower cholesterol levels and keep you regular.

Make your own crunch granola by baking three cups of oats at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, cool, then mix in a variety of chopped dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

Blueberries top the list as one of the most powerful disease-fighting foods. That’s because they contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant responsible for their dark blue color.  The delicious berries are packed with fiber, vitamin C and are available all year long.  Boost heart health by adding them into your diet regularly.

Make a tasty dessert by layering lady fingers, light whipped cream or low-fat pudding and blueberries, quick and simple.

These are just some of the heart healthy foods that you can find at your local supermarket. If you’re thinking about making diner for someone special on Valentine Day, try the spinach, and salmon, add some brown rice and the blueberries or a couple pieces of dark chocolate for  dessert…Toast your love with a glass of red wine…Happy Valentine Day

Chris

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