Happy Valentine's Day
Did you know that 58 million pounds of chocolate will be purchased in the seven days leading up to February 14th? That's alot of chocolate and sugar!
But, if you didn't already know, chocolate is good for you! In its purist form, that is--raw cacao, has an abundance of health benefits. So, eating chocolate can actually be rewarding and healthy. And, that's good news for all you chocolate lovers.
Here’s why: cacao is a super healthy and magical food packed with powerful health benefits like antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. It has more antioxidants than green tea and red wine.
These nutrients have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, lower inflammation, boost mood, and is associated with anti-aging and longevity. More good news on a day and month that celebrates heart health!
There are so many delicious treats you can make with cacao. Breakfast smoothies, brownies, cookies, hot chocolate, adding cacao nibs to yogurt or trail mix. Try my heart healthy smoothie below.
Diet also plays a key role in reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Adding more heart healthy foods like fiber, plant based foods, and healthy fats can help influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels, and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Here are 12 foods to include as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet that can help keep your heart healthy.
Avocado - loaded with fiber, vitamin C, healthy fats, and potassium
Blueberries- packed with antioxidants and fiber
Brown rice- rich in fiber and special compounds called lignans
Dark chocolate- contains compounds called flavanoids, which have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Oranges- contain flavanones, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and B
Fatty fish- like wild salmon and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation
Nuts and seeds- like chia, flax, walnuts, and almonds, contain healthy fats and fiber
Beans- excellent source of fiber and resistant starch
Tomatoes- contain lycopene which are powerful antioxidants. Also rich in vitamins C, A, and potassium
Leafy greens- rich in fiber, folic acid, and antioxidants
Olive oil- high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fat
Green tea- high in polyphenols and catechins
To your heart health,
Heart-Healthy Chocolate Berry Smoothie
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup wild frozen blueberries or mixed berries
2-4 TB cacao powder(use more if you desire a more chocolatey smoothie)
1 TB raw unfiltered honey
*For a protein boost add your favorite protein powder (I like unflavored collagen by Vital Proteins)
*For additional heart healthy nutrition add 1-2 TB chia seeds or ground flax
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth
Add ice (optional)