Does February make you think of chocolate and hearts ?
Me too! I love Valentine's Day and all that comes with it - especially the chocolate. As a holistic nutritionist and health coach, when I think of February, I think about hearts, too. I think of the connection between nutrition and heart health. Taking care of your body’s most important muscle. What we eat can significantly reduce our risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke, even if you have a family history of heart disease!
There are many foods that support heart health, but one of the nutrients that is most important to maintaining healthy cardiovascular function is Omega-3 fatty acids. An excellent source of Omega-3s is fish – fish is low in saturated fat and is high in Omega-3s. Aim for two servings of cold-water, fatty fish each week, such as salmon, halibut, and lake-trout. Smaller cold water fish, such as sardines and herring, are also good choices – high in Omega-3s and lower in mercury than larger cold water fish. Mackerel and tuna often have high levels of mercury, although light canned tuna is usually lower in mercury, as is salmon – one of the safest cold-water fish. Make sure you bake or grill your fish -- fried fish adds unhealthy fats and cancels out the health benefits!
If you don’t like fish, you can also get Omega-3s from flaxseed, chia seeds and nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Nuts are a great choice because they are high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Studies show that people who eat an ounce of nuts a day have a lower risk of heart disease.
But let’s get back to fish, because where it comes from is important. While “farm-raised” fish may sound healthy, typically these fish are factory-farmed, raised to produce large quantities of big fish. Farm-factory fish are often fed hormones, antibiotics and/or pesticides and not what we want to put in our bodies! Instead, whenever possible, select certified wild fish - sockeye salmon is always wild and atlantic salmon is always farmed. Not only do they contain fewer harmful chemicals, wild fish also contain more protein and Omega-3s than farm-raised fish.
See my heart-healthy salmon recipe in the Recipe section!