Whether you’re of baby boomer age or not, protecting your heart and brain are two major areas of your health that you should always be concerned with. Weakening and clogging your arteries will not only surely result in a shorter lifespan, it will also likely result in your having to deal with heart issues and heart disease that will greatly diminish your quality of life. Additionally, sabotaging your brain and mood with food that really isn’t even food at all, along with other unhealthy lifestyle choices, will put you at high risk for mood disorders, diminished memory, the inability to focus as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking care of our heart and brains is vital for a healthy existence. Keep reading to find out how 5 delicious and very healthy food choices can help keep your heart and brain in tip top condition.
Berries – The pigments that give berries their beautiful shades of blues, reds and purples are powerful plant compounds that are credited with protecting our delicate brain cells, boosting cognitive function and keeping memory intact. Additionally, berries are loaded with B vitamins, vitamin C, super antioxidants and other healthy boosting compounds that reduce cellular inflammation while promoting arterial expansion, helping to protect heart health. So much so, in fact, studies have shown that eating fresh berries (preferably organic) 3 times a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by more than 30%. And, regularly consuming specific berries; strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, can effectively boost mood and mild depression due to their powerful plant compounds which are similar in structure to the mood-stabilizing drug valproic acid.
Avocados – Most people assume that since avocados are rich in fat that they are less healthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Avocados only contain 2% saturated fat (however, a healthy and necessary kind) and the remainder of their fat content is of the monounsaturated variety. Monounsaturated fats are vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure and healthy heart rate, reduce cellular inflammation, and can even help offset the effects of an otherwise unhealthy meal (although this does not give you license to just eat with abandon and add an avocado to the mix). Additionally, avocados are brimming with folic acid, a necessary nutrient to maintain health brain function as well as short term and long term memory recall.
Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate that has a minimum of 70% cocoa content is truly a healthy food you can enjoy regularly. For starters, dark chocolate is rich in the mineral magnesium, which helps prevent arterial contraction as well as help support healthy blood pressure levels. Dark chocolate also contains two very important mood boosting compounds, phenylethylanine and the marijuana-like compound anandamide. Additionally, dark chocolate boast rich stores of several flavonoids which are proven to boost blood and oxygen flow to your heart and brain.
Nuts – Nuts contain a fabulous combination of folate and fiber, a nutrient combo that is proven to help lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar. Nuts are a healthy source of omega 3 fatty acids which are proven for their amazing anti-inflammatory abilities and keeping blood vessel walls relaxed. Health studies have shown that consuming a handful of nuts just twice a week can help lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack and even sudden cardiac arrest by as much as 35%. Nuts also contain a plethora of brain boosting nutrients which are proven to elevate the mood boosting hormones serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
Red Wine – Yes, this really is a healthy food when consumed in moderation, which is no more than 3-7 drinks per week for women and no more than 3-14 drinks per week for men. Red wine consumption has been shown to lower fibrinogen (a protein involved in blood clotting, helping to prevent blood clots), boost your levels of good cholesterol and reduce your overall risk of heart disease and heart attack by as much as 40%. Red wine also helps boost mood due to its endorphin-like opioid compounds, as long as consumption is within a healthy range.
Protecting the health of your heart and brain is crucial for a happy and healthy existence, and fortunately this can be done by consuming delicious nature-made foods that are readily available in almost all parts of the world.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina “The Veggie Goddess” Matthews