As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” His words still ring true some 2,500 years ago. With a varied, balanced diet of whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, you can maintain optimal heart health. Being mindful of what’s on your plate and getting regular exercise may help prevent a future centered around prescription medication for all your ailments. It might also help reduce some medications already filling your bathroom cabinet.
This Valentine’s Day, while you shower your loved ones with affection, don’t forget about yourself or your heart. Your ticker deserves some loving, heart-boosting foods for the hard work it does every day!
Remember, though, not one food can miraculously promote heart health. It is the combination of many heart-healthy foods that can change your life. So, in honor of “the day of love” and the CDC’s American Heart Month, here are five plant-based foods to help you love your heart this Valentine’s Day:
Think of almonds, pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts! Nuts are great sources of “good fats,” Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. They can help reduce cholesterol levels, excess body fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
Surprise your loved ones with breakfast in bed; try making these Apple-Almond Butter Pancakes or some Pumpkin Nut Muffins. Cozy up by the fireside and enjoy some Apple Sandwiches with Almond Butter. Here’s a 5-minute Raw Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge that you and your special someone can indulge in. How about enjoying those sweets with a cup of Peanut Milk, Almond Milk, or Homemade Hazelnut Cashew Milk?
You can go nutty for these dishes: Street Pad Thai or Minced Tempeh Salad with Lemongrass, Sesame, and Cashews.
Here are even more reasons to eat almonds and walnuts!
A diet high in soluble fiber can help you stay fuller longer and reduce cholesterol levels. These include rolled and steel cut oats. Oatmeal also contains calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. There are lots of low-calorie oatmeal recipes to try, including this Slow Cooker Vegan Vanilla Fig Oatmeal Topped with Baklava Filling or this Pomegranate Oatmeal Burst. Try some Quinoa, Apricot, and Oat Muffin Clusters to curb your afternoon hunger pangs or these Coconut Oatmeal Cookies. Think oatmeal is just for breakfast? Try this Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto for dinner.
Beans are a staple in plant-based diets. They provide plant protein, fiber, calcium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium.
“Like all foods that contain a lot of soluble fiber, beans help bind cholesterol and keep it from being absorbed in the gut,” said Philip Ades, M.D., author of the EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook, via Eating Well.
Tomatoes are chock full of lycopene, which helps in disease prevention. When shopping for tomatoes, don’t look past orange-colored tomatoes for their deep red counterparts. It turns out that the lycopene from these less red tomatoes “may actually be better absorbed than the lycopene from red tomatoes.” Don’t shy away from those orange ones!
In addition to this benefit, tomatoes are excellent sources of fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and potassium. What’s more, “the natural gel found in tomato seeds can help maintain a healthy blood circulation by preventing blood from clotting,” according to the Telegraph.
Add some tomatoes into your diet with this Focaccia with Roma Tomatoes and Onions or Raw Tomato Red Pepper Soup. How about an appetizer like these Cheezy Roasted Tomatoes and a savory side like this Skillet Asparagus & Tomato Medley.
As the old adage suggests, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The saying is definitely based on truth. Apples are full of antioxidants like Vitamin C and soluble fiber.
Plus, studies “suggest that the strong antioxidant flavonoid compounds found in apples—quercetin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, kaempferol, and other polysyllabic wonders—play a key role by preventing “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and triggering a series of events that result in the buildup of plaque in arteries, as well as inhibiting inflammation,” according to Eating Well.
This year-round fruit is great in sweet desserts like these Vegan Caramel Apples, Pear Apple Pie, or Apple-Of-My-Eye Pie for your darling. Can’t get enough of apples? Check out these 24 Awesome Apple-Based Vegan Recipes.
These foods are just a start to the many plant-based wonder foods that will keep your heart healthy for this Valentine’s Day — and many, many more to come!
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