Heart Healthy Bowl Breakdown
February is the season of love.
And what better way to show yourself some love than by serving up heart-healthy foods.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., surpassing cancer.
The most important behavioral risk factors for heart disease are an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and excessive use of alcohol.
These risk factors may show up as high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high cholesterol levels and by being overweight or obese. (Which you would only know if you do an annual check-up with your doctor!)
While following a balanced diet can promote overall health, there are certain foods you can eat in your daily diet that will strengthen your cardiovascular system.
As I sat down to research content for my 'heart-health series' I ordered this sunny side breakfast bowl special from Le Pain Quotidien to keep me company. As I read off the list of ingredients my mouth salivated and noted. Every. Single. Ingredient in this bowl has some nutrients that provide heart-healthy boosting powers. So I decided to work with what was in front of me.
How one bowl can translate into heart-protecting properties.
Eggs: Eggs are one of my favorite superfoods. They have a lot of unique micronutrients (vitamin and minerals), such as choline, biotin, and vitamin A. Yes, it's true eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, but research has found this doesn’t necessarily translate to cholesterol levels in the blood. Also important to consider, the cholesterol found in eggs is mostly from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are the same healthy fats found in nuts and avocados, that have heart-protecting properties. (1)
Ancient Grains: Whole grains, like ancient grains, are high in fiber. Fiber is one of the healthiest heart-healthy nutrients. Unfortunately, many of us are lacking it in our daily diets. Fiber helps to balance sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels and feed your gut microbiome. (2)
Brussel Sprouts, Red Cabbage & Leafy Greens: Brussel Sprouts and cabbages are considered to be in the cruciferous vegetable family, along with cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy. Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens, like arugula and kale, hold a lot of food power in the form of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. These nutrients work together to fight cancer growth and promote heart health by reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels. (3, 4)
Sweet Potato: The orange flesh of sweet potatoes contain high amounts of beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes have a large variety of unique micronutrients like calcium, copper, manganese, vitamin B complex, biotin, and potassium. These nutrients work together to maintain and strengthen the tissues that make up your heart and arteries. It’s also high in fiber!
Avocado: Yes, avocado is worth all the hype. Avocado is full of monounsaturated fats, the good kind of fat that protects your cardiovascular system by reducing cholesterol levels. The fat content in avocado can increase the body's absorption of certain nutrients like the beta-carotene in sweet potato and lutein in leafy greens. They are also a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin E and folic acid.