Let’s take a moment to think about and marvel at the heart—a beautiful, complex organ that gives life with every beat.
Heart break can occur emotionally and physically. With support for emotional care and the advancements of heart and vascular care, broken hearts can be and are treated successfully.
Important questions come to mind: Can we prevent the buildup of plaque in the vessels that feed the heart?
Stress, particularly ongoing or chronic stress, affects our health in many ways known as the “fight or flight” response. Hormones and responses that prepare our bodies for quick physical movement that are not turned off can negatively affect our health.
Meals that incorporate whole foods, are plant based and free of refined oils, are noted for improving heart disease or reversing plaque in vessels.
If you’re not ready to go entirely plant based, increasing plant products in your daily diet provides benefits.
Regular consumption of foods and beverages that are processed and packaged are often low in fiber, high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, artificial colors and preservatives and can contribute to a stressed or inflammatory state in our bodies.
For heart health, that can mean increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides and cholesterol levels and lowered HDL (good cholesterol). These are all risk factors for heart disease.
Including and increasing whole and plant-based foods in our diets can up our intake of fibers, vitamins, minerals and stress-fighting properties known as antioxidants.
Adding just one additional whole fruit and vegetable serving daily can provide needed nutrients that will result in positive health benefits, especially when processed and fast foods are not eaten.
In addition to using the power of plants in meal ingredients, we should aim to use less salt to lower sodium in recipes by using herbs and spices. They boost flavor while also adding antioxidants to help reduce inflammation.
To spice it up in the kitchen, consider:
- Unprocessed cocoa powder mixed in Greek vanilla or plain yogurt
- Cinnamon sprinkled on winter squash before and after baking
- Tumeric and fresh lemon juice added to cooked quinoa
- Ginger powder sprinkled on salmon before cooking
- Basil, oregano and balsamic vinegar drizzled on fresh tomato slices
- Cilantro added to guacamole or to diced tomatoes and onions for salsa
- Cumin added to bean chili while cooking
- Garlic (freshly minced) added to cauliflower, then bake
- Sprinkle rosemary on cubed sweet potatoes, then bake