February is American Heart Month, so let’s talk about ways to be ToxicFree® and protect your heart!
Heart disease is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. In America, 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease each year. Most of us have heard that certain conditions and lifestyle choices can increase your risk of heart disease. A few of these include Diabetes, obesity, an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
A healthy and balanced diet can improve your heart and overall health. There are many power-packed foods, like coconut oil and fresh berries, that you can include in your diet to give your body a boost. In fact, a few of these items are SO good for you, I’ve created a smoothie recipe as an easy and delicious way to include them in your diet every day!
The media and medical world have been warning us for the last 60 years about the dangers of saturated fats. As it turns out, all saturated fats are not created equal. The key word here is “created.” Some saturated fats occur “naturally,” like coconut oil. Other saturated fats are artificially manipulated into a saturated state through a man-made manipulation called hydrogenation. These manipulated, saturated fats are also called Trans fats and should be avoided.
Coconut oil contains natural fats—long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. LCTs are more difficult for the body to break down. MCTs are made of shorter chains of fatty acids than LCTs, which allows the body to absorb and use them more quickly. Research shows that when these healthy fats break down in the liver it leads to efficient burning of energy. What does this mean? According to a 2010 study conducted by the New York Obesity Research Center and College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, men and women who consumed MCTs as part of their diet lost more weight and had lower amounts of abdominal fat (carrying fat in the mid-section is known to contribute to more heart problem risks) than those who consumed olive oil as part of a weight-loss program.
New research shows that the MCTs in coconut oil can supply the brain with a very clean source of energy. In 2004, a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging showed that coconut oil MCT’S improved memory, concentration and even Alzheimer’s.
Reports published in the July 2013 Harvard Heart Letter showed a connection between berries and the reduction of the risk of heart attacks. In the study, women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries during the study period were 34% less likely to have suffered a heart attack than women who ate the least amount of these fruits.
Kale is one of the world’s healthiest foods. This green, leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins—A, C and K, as well as minerals including potassium and iron. These vitamins, along with fiber and potassium, all support heart health. Kale’s nutrients can also support digestion and may contribute to good bone health!
According to the American Heart Association, Medjool Dates are heart-healthy because they contain 16 vitamins and minerals, are high in potassium and have lots of dietary fiber. They are also a delicious fruit you can eat alone or include in recipes that work as a “natural sweetener.”
Flaxseed is an ancient food with many benefits. Some say that the Egyptians carried it in their medical bags. It’s high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans which may be beneficial to the cardiovascular system. Flaxseed may help lower cholesterol levels—especially the LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. It can also aid in digestion and help with constipation.
Another option for those who may not care for the taste of Flaxseed are Chia Seeds. These tiny seeds are also packed with nutritents! They contain protein, omega-3s, fiber and minerals. They help to keep your immune system strong and fight against many diseases.
Our family likes to use Chia seeds because they don’t change the flavor of the food—they’re a great way to sneak in some good nutrition when you have picky eaters.
Combine all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend together until smooth.