Heart Health for Valentine’s Day

Stephanie Wilkins // Health & Wellness Consultant, Certified Nutrition Counselor, Atlanta, GA // www.nicolesandercockphotography.com

Heart Health for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s a good time to talk about heart health.
In 2017, Tufts University, Cambridge, and Montefiore Medical gathered and analyzed information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Together, they looked at data in regard to 700,000 + people who died from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Their findings showed good reason to keep a love affair going between the heart and good nutrition!

In the report, the largest number of deaths were due to over consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. But…why? Well, the average can of soda has about 12 teaspoons of sugar in it! If you dropped that on the table and tried to consume it, you would probably not feel so good. But yet……because it is mixed up and processed into a carbonated beverage that goes down smooth, we normally consume it without any thought or immediate reactions.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, excess sugar in the body increases triglycerides. Over time, this puts us at a higher risk for heart disease. As well, gaining weight from excess sugar leads to high blood pressure and increased high levels of LDL cholesterol. This overabundance of bad cholesterol is what causes arterial plaque to form, which then moves on to blocked arteries!

In lieu of soda, what are some good replacements?

  • Green tea, which contains antioxidants, actually helps prevent plaque build up in the arteries.
  • Hibiscus tea which is actually proven to lower blood pressure!
  • WATER!

The report also showed that some of those 700,000+ deaths were related to high processed meat intake. Why is this?

Bottom line….a diet full of processed meats that are shelf stable, frozen, or canned gives way to salt overload in the body.

Stephanie Wilkins, CNC

Salt overload leads to chronic inflammation. Inflammation puts a lot of stress on the heart and blood vessels which causes damage. As well, salt overload increases blood pressure and damages arteries. According to an article in Healthline entitled How Much Sodium Should you Have Per Day by Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD, salt overconsumption increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and heart failure!

Reading further, they analyzed that some deaths were also attributed to a low intake of nuts. Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, increase heart health because of their fiber and mono-saturated fat content. Many people enjoy nuts during the holidays, but forget about them during the rest of the year. Also, people seem to like their nuts covered in…..salt!

Challenge:  Try eating 1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts each day. Eat them without salt and eat organic when possible! 

In another part of the report, they they looked specifically at those who died from strokes and found that a high number were linked to not eating enough fruits, veggies and again….too much sodium!

When we research why adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables make such a difference to our heart’s health we see that it’s, of course, because of their potent vitamin and mineral content. Let’s name just a few:

  • Vitamin K, found in leafy greens, promotes blood clotting and protects arteries.
  • Nitrates, found in leafy greens, reduces blood pressure and strengthens the cells that line the blood vessels.
  • An analysis of 22 studies revealed that berry consumption is associated with reducing LDL cholesterol, normalizing systolic blood pressure, lowering body mass index, and reducing certain markers of inflammation.

So how much of these amazing heart nourishing foods should we eat each day?

According to an article entitled Fruits and Vegetables for Heart Health: More is Better by Harvard Health Publishing., Five, 1/2 cup daily servings of vegetables and fruits, combined, will reduce heart disease and prolong life.

With this important study in mind, on Valentine’s Day and every day, let’s support heart health.

Keep the love affair between the heart and good nutrition alive.

Stephanie Wilkins, CNC

By dismissing the advances of processed foods and embracing new ways to increase veggies, fruits and nuts into our lives, the relationship between the heart and good nutrition will thrive. As a result, our heart will hopefully thank us for years to come! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Share This:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.