By Ellie Kempton
There are 2 sides to this heart health coin [the emotional + the clinical] and it’s critical to consider both to experience the intoxicating freedom and joy of a healthy heart!
From a clinical standpoint, heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America, and even worse, heart disease still kills more women than all cancers combined. Fortunately, the risk factors leading to heart disease are preventable 90% of the time.
From an emotional standpoint, heart health is crucial to unlocking your capacity to experience joy + freedom. This TOO can be addressed with intentional lifestyle design. Really? YES! Unless you’ve experienced TRUE heartbreak, you may be wondering exactly how you KNOW if your heart needs some extra TLC. Here’s what you need to know…
Listed below are the TOP 3 things you need to know about YOUR heart and how to protect it with food + lifestyle design:
DITCH THE DAMAGING FOODS
- High Sodium Foods: think processed food! Sodium is used in many processed foods as a preservative. High sodium intake can spike your blood pressure, harm your kidneys, and greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease. The best form of sodium is in Sea Salt [Himalayan or Real Brand] that you add by hand to your foods.
- Low Quality Saturated Fats: Allow all your saturated fats to come from a high quality source you can recognize. For instance if it is an animal-based saturated fat: make sure it is raised in a clean environment without being exposed to any sources of antibiotics or hormones.
- Sugar: I’m sure you were expecting to hear sugar is troublesome. But have you ever linked sugar to heart health? Probably not. Beside it’s addictive nature, added sugars are linked with higher blood pressure and high triglyceride levels, playing a key roll in the development of heart disease. Added sugars can be found on a food label in the form of: corn sweetener or corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, or words ending in –ose (dextrose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, maltose). Keep your eyes peeled!
FEAST ON HEART FORTIFYING FOODS
- Cruciferous vegetables: a study published by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a strong correlation between cruciferous vegetables and positive cardiovascular health. More to come on this! Some cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and you guessed it: BRUSSELS SPROUTS!! Click HERE to see our blog post on the benefits, uses, and selecting/storing techniques for Brussels!
- Feast on fiber: this nutrient alone can suppress appetite, improve blood sugar, decrease cholesterol, and decrease inflammation. Fiber can be found in some of our favorite foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans!
- Healthy fats: while a low fat diet won’t promise health, consuming HEALTHY fats can promote decreased inflammation and healthy brain activity. Eating fats from sources like seafood, avocados, seeds, and healthy oils build up your levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and VERY heart protective .
- Antioxidants: antioxidants protect the body from oxidative stress and combat chronic inflammation that can lead to heart disease. Vitamin E and Coenzyme Q 10 (CoQ10) are two antioxidants that work together in the body to attack LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk for developing or worsening heart disease. Vitamin E can be found in foods like sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocado, peanuts, and asparagus. CoQ10 can be found in vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower. These can also be found in supplement form.
- Spice it up: herbs and spices are wonderful ways to, not only make your food taste great, but also lend cardio protective benefits! Garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, basil and hot chili spices like cayenne and paprika pump up the flavor in your food while lowering blood sugar, revving your metabolism, and lowering inflammation.
SAVOR SELF CARE
- 1. Carve out time daily for non food-related reward. Bathing, walking in nature, napping and deep breathing are just a few to consider integrating into your life. This 10 minute “indulgence” could be the most nourishing “food” you consume all day!
- 2. Laugh! The power of laughter is contagious and intoxicating. Allow yourself to indulge in comedy, whether it be time with your family or watching a silly movie cuddled up by the fire. Allowing yourself to experience this simple + accessible escape from any emotional turmoil may just be one of the most therapeutic thing you can experience.
- 3. Reframe setbacks. Allow yourself to shift perspective when you don’t accomplish your goals in the way you expected. Sometimes the “failure” is just the nudge you needed to change course and pursue the true passions of your heart. Allow setbacks to be your teacher not your master!