As I was returning from a fun-filled evening on the lake for my weekly Family Night, I received a text message that no one ever wants to get.
A dear family friend and neighbor was awaiting heart bypass surgery after some unfavorable medical tests.
My heart sank. I immediately prayed for this sweet family and for God to ultimately bring my friend through the surgery with flying colors. I was so grateful that the tests showed the issue before this friend suffered a heart attack, but I knew this was still extraordinarily serious.
What my son said proved to be so true, “Mom, I just saw him, how did this happen? He seemed fine to me.”
Isn’t that always the case?
Heart disease is still the leading killer in the United States.
For that reason, many of you have or will receive a very similar message to the one I did, or one that is sadly much more devastating.
So how can we prevent heart disease? Or deal with the aftermath of having unfavorable medical results regarding your heart?
The Key Most Often Lies in Our Diets
Yes, I know there are heart conditions that regardless of how you eat, you will still have issues, but I am focusing on what we can do to prevent damage or deal with a diet after a diagnosis.
The simplest advice:
Eat Whole Foods
Load your kitchen with fresh produce, lean meats, fresh seafood (I am still a work in progress when it comes to seafood), oats, and whole grains.
Heart Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet
- Fresh Produce: Phytonutrients are found in our produce, over 25, ooo (according to WebMD). What is so great about that? Those natural chemicals help your body function properly and repairs damage to cells.
- Salmon and Tuna: Contains heart healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Flax Seed: A wonderful source of Omega Fatty Acids, especially great for those fish haters like myself
- Oats: Because of the high fiber content of oats, they help to remove cholesterol from the blood stream.
- Whole Grains: Again whole grains are high in fiber and fiber helps to protect the heart!
- Soy: a sources of phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that may affect blood cholesterol levels and blood vessel elasticity.
- Beans: Are a great source of natural protein that is low in cholesterol and high in fiber–key things for your heart!
Simple Tips to Eat A More Heart Healthy Diet:
- Eat a rainbow every day! The more colorful the produce you eat, the more phytonutrients you receive!
- Skip the processed/pre-made foods. Rely on simple whole foods to fill your grocery cart and your stomachs.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, to load up on produce, lean dairy, lean meats, and fish. Head into the isles only to get frozen vegetables/fruit, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and dry or low-sodium canned beans.
- Watch your sodium intake: By skipping the processed foods, you will not have to worry about this!
- Avoid Trans Fat: anything with hydrogenated oils *Warning: The package may say trans-fat free, but still contain hydrogenated oils in the ingredients–AVOID!
- Replace butter in recipes with olive oil, which is known to be beneficial for your heart as well.
So What Do You Eat?
- Smoothies: Mix soy milk, fresh or frozen fruit of your choice and a bit of flax seed together. A delicious snack that is loaded with heart healthy ingredients.
- Salads: A dark leafy green loaded with farm-fresh produce. Add grilled chicken or fish Try these out Lemon Chicken Salad , Grilled Panzanella Salad or Chicken Parmesan Salad for a refreshing entree or Watermelon and Arugula Salad as a unique side dish.
- Oats: Oatmeal for breakfast is a not the only way to get a serving of oats. Try Oatmeal Blender Pancakes, PB & J Oatmeal Muffins, or No-Bake Granola Bars. Get your sweet tooth satisfied while still protecting your heart by having The Healthiest Cookie Ever.
- Go Meatless: By having at least one meatless meal a week, you not only protect your wallet, but also your heart. Try these out for fulfilling entrees: Black Bean Burritos, Black Bean Stuffed Tomatoes, Greek Quinoa Salad Mozzarella and Tomato Quinoa Bake or Quinoa Burgers or enjoy whole wheat pasta with a tomato sauce, rich in nutrients.
- Enjoy Leaner Cuts of Meat: These recipes feature low-fat cuts of meat that can be pulled together easily for busy nights: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Skewers, or Grilled Jerk Chicken with Pineapple .
- Snack Healthy: Don’t just put the effort into healthy meals, but be prepared for when hunger strikes with this Round-Up of Healthy Snacks.
My sincere prayer is that you will find hope recipes and tips that can inspire you to eat better for your heart, for your future, and for your children.