Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Foods for Heart Health
Today, we use hearts to represent love, but it wasn’t always this way. Before the 14th century, a heart was just a decorative shape, and it only took on romantic connotations thanks to early Christianity. But what do our real beating hearts have to do with love? Turns out, not much. Even though warm and fuzzy feelings come from the brain, we still think Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to discuss heart health.
5 Foods for Better Heart Health
If you want to prepare a tasty homemade meal for your Valentine this year, consider making something rich in heart-healthy foods. Here are five natural ingredients that support cardiovascular health.
- Leafy Greens
Vegetables like spinach, bok choy, kale, and Swiss chard contain nitrates, which help widen the blood vessels. Dilated veins and arteries allow unrestricted blood flow, keeping blood pressure healthy so your heart functions at its best. They are also rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent the oxidative stress that can cause heart disease.
- Fatty Fish
Salmon, sardines, and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies show that eating fish regularly may improve heart health over time. Seafood is also generally low in saturated fats, making it an excellent choice for people with high cholesterol. Managing cholesterol throughout your life reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
- Whole Grains
Grains like wheat, barley, brown rice, oat bran, and quinoa are high in fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol levels. Fiber is made of plant cells that the body cannot break down. Studies show that it can gradually reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. LDL is the “bad cholesterol” that builds up in veins and arteries, increasing the chances of blood clots.
- Legumes and Nuts
Soy and its derivatives, such as tofu, are excellent lean protein sources. Other legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are high in fiber and low in cholesterol—the perfect combination for optimal heart health. Nuts have also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nuts like almonds and walnuts are also good sources of plant sterols, which can help lower cholesterol.
Onions and garlic get their pungent scent and flavor from sulfur, which may help lower cholesterol levels. They also contain an anti-inflammatory plant compound called quercetin. Red onions have the highest levels of quercetin, making them the most beneficial variant for your heart. They’re also rich in antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Spoil Your Sweetheart Without the Sugar
Chocolate and candy have become Valentine’s Day staples, but you should always enjoy them in moderation. Sugar can have adverse effects on your heart when consumed in excess. This year, consider spoiling your loved ones with low or no-sugar treats made with natural sweeteners. For people without a sweet tooth, beware of high-sodium snacks–avoid fast food and ultra-processed meals where you can.
Adding fruit, vegetable, and herb extracts is one way to make salt-free foods more flavorful. These aromatic ingredients also enhance the smell of packaged foods, which plays a significant role in flavor perception.
Create Healthier Valentine’s Day Treats With Advanced Biotech
If you plan on releasing seasonal food and beverages this Valentine’s Day, consider going sugar and sodium-free and using heart-healthy ingredients. Where you can’t include whole fruits and vegetables, rely on natural and organic flavorings from Advanced Biotech. Please contact us for more information.