Column: Eat well while caring for your heartOn Jan. 31, the President declared February American Heart Month. What a fitting way to tie in Valentine’s Day hearts to taking care of your heart. I am glad President Obama declared February Heart Month, because I am really enjoying it.
By: Mary Lebens, The Farmington Independent
On Jan. 31, the President declared February American Heart Month. What a fitting way to tie in Valentine’s Day hearts to taking care of your heart.
I am glad President Obama declared February Heart Month, because I am really enjoying it. Every weekend there are Heart Month walks and the paper is publishing tons of heart healthy recipes. I love walking and I love eating, so I’m having no problem celebrating Heart Month. Especially the eating, since bizarrely, a lot of my favorite foods are heart-healthy foods. Tuna, salmon, broccoli, and brown rice are all heart healthy. There’s nothing better than a cedar-plank grilled hunk of salmon on a bed of seasoned brown rice, with a generous helping of broccoli on the side.
Broccoli belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes other delicious heart-healthy veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables not only are good for your heart, but there is evidence they prevent certain cancers as well.
I’m guessing a lot of people are reading this and thinking, I want to eat heart healthy, but fish and broccoli are gross. I know, because I used to eat a tuna fish sandwich for breakfast at work every day and my co-workers were completely grossed out. They also ran from the break room gagging every time I microwaved a Tupperware container of broccoli for lunch.
Luckily, there are a few heart healthy foods that won’t send your co-workers heading for the hills. Blueberries, baby carrots and oranges are heart-healthy and completely inoffensive to other cubicle dwellers.
You don’t have to chow down on tuna for breakfast, either. Instead, you can try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts or a glass of soy milk.
Of course, you can’t just eat your way to a healthy heart. Exercise is vital to heart health. I like walking. Running is probably even better for your heart, but you can’t run and read at the same time. The treadmills at my gym are topped with a nice, wide shelf where I can prop up my Nook e-Reader.
Sometimes I bring my tablet and check my email or even write my column while I’m walking on the treadmill. Sure, I’m walking slowly, but I’ve worked my way up to an hour and a half of walking at a time. In case anyone from my gym is reading this, I do obey the 30 minute limit when someone is waiting. I go at weird times of the day, so I’m not hogging the treadmill when other people want to get on and strengthen their hearts.
Man’s best friend is helpful in getting you off your rear, too. Studies show dog owners have lower rates of obesity. I believe it, because my dogs love to wander aimlessly around the yard and accompany me to the mailbox. Dogs, and pets in general, also have been shown to lower people’s heart rate. Petting a furry pal causes blood pressure and stress levels to drop. There are no studies out yet on scaly pets like my giant green iguana, but I feel calmer when I’m around her. Unfortunately, she’s been responsible for raising the heart rate of a few party guests who wandered into my laundry room instead of the bathroom. Just from the shrieks alone, I could tell not everyone feels calmer when they’re in the vicinity of a four foot long lizard.
Heart health is mostly common sense, the kind of thing we’ve had drilled into us since we were kids. Eat your broccoli, finish your fish, then go outside and play. It’s strange how we gradually forget to do things as adults. Take some time for yourself this month, and make a special salmon dinner or go for a walk with your special someone. Your heart will thank you.