If you want to make sure you live a long and healthy life, you will want to take precautions with your lifestyle, your diet and also try to live as happily as you can. Our heart, of course, is a huge part of the body and it is responsible for sending blood to our vital organs, allowing us to breathe. To keep the heart healthy through the years, of course, we will want to stay active, but we will also want to add foods into our diet which improve the function of our heart, and here are some you can try today.
One of the secrets to great cardiovascular care during your lifetime has to be eating fish. Fish might not be everyone’s favorite food however it is a food crammed full of omega 3 which is excellent for both our heart and our brain. Plus, it’s lean meat meaning that you won’t have to think about extra cholesterol building up in your veins and arteries.
Nuts are one of those foods which seem to appear on every healthy eating list and this is because they offer a huge wealth of benefits. For those looking to lose weight, these are a high protein snack which contains lots of fiber and calories to fill you up. For the heart, nuts contain some wonderful oil and vitamins to allow the heart to move smoothly and strongly throughout life. Just by adding 30 grams of nuts per day to a Mediterranean diet lowers risk of heart disease by 30 percent. For example, Pecans are healthy low-carb nuts that may help regulate blood sugar and reduce certain heart disease risk factors. Read more about Pecans and other low-carb nuts here.
Strawberries… raspberries… blueberries- any of these bright and flavorful fruits are amazing for the body and the heart. Berries are naturally low in fat and they contain a huge volume of fiber which is great for the heart. What about the term superfood, are goji berries a superfood? What about blueberries and acai berries? Many berries are referred to as a superfood because of the nutrients they contain. They also contain antioxidants to rid the body of harmful free radicals so eating a handful of berries with some yogurt each day can be a wonderful addition to your diet.
You may have heard of flaxseeds as being an addition to countless smoothies, and there is a good reason why these little nuggets are added to healthy breakfasts. Flaxseeds contain omega-3, lots of fiber and they also contain phytoestrogens which help to boost our heart health and keep it strong. You can either eat these over a bowl of oatmeal or take them milled in a smoothie or shake.
Could it really be true? Yes, wine is actually a great drink for the heart and when drinking 1-2 glasses a day your body will produce more high density lipid (HDL) cholesterol which is the good form for our body. It’s the ideal excuse to have a tipple after a stressful day because you are simply helping your heart stay strong!
It’s a classic and it is totally accurate. Beans such as baked beans, black beans, and kidney beans are full of fiber, vitamin B and protein which keeps the whole body healthy including your heart. It’s the ideal excuse for some beans and cornbread or a big bowl of chili this week!
Here’s a great recipe for getting more beans in your diet. My Mamaw and my Nanny used to make these with what they called hot cornbread – a spicy hearty version of cornbread. It would be served with a side of sliced tomatoes, green onions, diced onions, and her famous chow chow. Maybe some fried potatoes and onions too.
My Nanny (grandmother) with her green onions and a glass of buttermilk
Feeds a family of four for about 2 days
- pinto beans (2 cups dry)
- bacon fat and/or salt pork (fatback)
- salt and pepper
To begin, soak 2 cups of dry beans in enough water to cover them over night or preferably 24 hours. My grandmothers called this “getting the gas out”. They were exactly right. Soaking makes the beans easier to digest and causes less bloating and gas. I like to soak my beans long enough so that they sprout. I have noticed this takes the unwanted side effects of beans completely away and cuts down on cooking time. On the day of cooking, put the beans in a large stock pot. Cover the beans with water, then add as much water as you want for soup. Cut up some onion and add to the pot. Add salt and pepper to your preference (I use unrefined sea salt for valuable nutrients.) Then, the most important ingredient is added – fatback and/or bacon fat. Traditionally, this was a piece of fatty pork cured in salt. If that wasn’t available grease from the morning breakfast would suffice. Most often bacon grease is what I have on hand and I use it generously. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then, turn down the heat to a low-medium. Cook the beans until they are a light reddish-brown color and soft. This will take 2-4 hours.
Soupbeans and cornbread is an Appalachian staple. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in my diet. It was hard for me to understand how so many people I encountered from outside of this area didn’t have a clue as to what it is.
Soupbeans and cornbread was a meal that was born of necessity. With hard times came, the need for cheap and nutritious meals. Beans and corn meal were things that most people kept on hand or were easily acquired. Mountain cooks worked their magic and made this a meal that is not only extremely cheap, but absolutely delicious. It is my favorite Appalachian meal, and we certainly enjoyed it last night. Read more about Kelli’s life in Appalachia on her blog A Mountain Mama – East Kentucky Gal