Keep Your Defenses Up With These Heart Healthy Foods
As we get closer to flu season, there's been a lot of talk about the similarities between the flu and COVID-19.
After all, both carry similar symptoms: fever/chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat, and a host of others.
But there's one similarity I don't hear much about in the media – the toll both viruses take on your heart.
Last week, I talked about getting your immune defenses ready ahead of the start of flu season.
But to be truly prepared for the invaders, you want to make sure your heart is pumping strong, as well.
The good news is the health of your heart lies in your own hands.
Because keeping your heart healthy starts with the foods you reach for each day.
It's not complicated.
Load up on more fruits and vegetables.
They're nutritional powerhouses for your heart, packed with antioxidants that protect against those radicals that can damage your arteries.
And, they're often loaded with fiber that helps control blood pressure.
The recommendation is five to ten servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Which may seem like a lot. But not so difficult if you get creative.
Try adding vegetables to your eggs for breakfast.
Or, make a big pot of chicken soup and throw in some carrots, celery and other veggies from the fridge.
Experiment with new greens for salads or eat frozen blueberries for snacks.
Really, the possibilities are endless.
If you're a chocolate lover, you'll be happy to know that dark chocolate is another great food for your heart.
You see, dark chocolate is rich in phenols and flavonoids, which maintain normal blood pressure levels and keep your arteries healthy.
Keep in mind that chocolate is high in calories, so limiting your consumption to about a half ounce to an ounce a day is best.
Look for a variety with a high cacao content (at least 70%).
The higher the cacao content, the higher percentage of antioxidants per serving.
Most folks know that fish that are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) are one of the best heart-healthy foods.
Omega-3s can help support cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and promote healthy blood pressure.
Salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and tuna are highest in omega-3s, but if you're not a fish fan, you can still get omega-3s from other sources.
Nuts not only contain omega-3s, they're also chock full of heart-supporting nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, and phytosterols.
Plus, they're low in saturated fat and contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Another tasty source of monounsaturated fat? Avocados.
Eating avocados has been linked to healthy cholesterol levels.
Plus, they're loaded with potassium – a key mineral that supports blood pressure.
With the convergence of the flu and COVID-19 weeks, if not days away, I know I'm going to be doing all I can to keep my defenses up.
That includes getting quality sleep each night and regular exercise during the day.
And, incorporating some of these heart-healthy foods each day.
Stay safe out there.