Have a Happy Heart Healthy Month

How appropriate that February, the same month we celebrate Valentines Day, is heart health month?

Love is connected with the heart, but unfortunately for our heart (and our waistline), we also associate Valentines Day with sweets!  When most of us think of our sweetheart on Valentines Day, the gift of chocolate comes to mind, even though in our heart of hearts, we know that these treats are not good for the heart! 

Maybe this Valentines Day, consider a gift that supports a healthy heart – D id you know that bitter foods are actually good for the heart, especially for someone who suffers from any type of heart disease?  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods with a bitter flavor are connected with supporting healthy heart function, and bitter foods and herbs assist in cooling and draining excess heat from the body.

Some bitter foods that are heart healthy include:

·      Kale

·      Parsley

·      Endive

·      Arugula

·      Dandelion

Most likely you know what to do with the first four of the above mentioned foods, but you may be saying to yourself, “Dandelion? How in the world do I consume a weed that drives me nuts in the summer?” 

We are actually talking about Dandelion greens.  These greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised.  The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A & C.

Also, there are tricks to making these bitter greens a little more tasty.  For example, massage your Kale (who said we are not being romantic here?) with olive oil, garlic and salt.  Be sure to remove the stems first.  This is great when adding kale to a salad or when making kale chips. 

I understand that these greens do not sound as romantic as chocolate, but if you truly care about your loved one, choose their gift wisely and help take care of their heart!   

You may also try replacing sweets with:

·      Hugs

·      Compliments

·      Forgiveness

·      A reason to laugh

·      Just some good ol’ fashion love

Obviously, this does not mean that you and your sweetheart will never enjoy another piece of chocolate together, but this year, try giving a big green salad filled with bitter greens and a big hug! 

(And fine – if you simply cannot resist a nibble of chocolate, make it dark chocolate as it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet and can help to improve your overall health and lower the risk of heart disease — but don’t forget, moderation is key!)

Always remember, the most genuine and least expensive gift you can give is a big hug — this connects you mentally and physically, but the best part is during that moment you are truly heart to heart!

Happy heart healthy month!