Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Hearty Valentines!

Ah, love. That wonderful emotion that makes our hearts flutter!

And the heart… what a wonderful part of our body! So, for the lovely holiday, let’s take a look at keeping that heart healthy so you may have years and years of twitter-pated fluttering!

The American Heart Association lists 7 simple steps to a healthy heart:

1. don’t smoke;
2. maintain a healthy weight;
3. engage in regular physical activity;
4. eat a healthy diet;
5. manage blood pressure;
6. take charge of cholesterol; and
7. keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.

So how are you doing on those?

Part of that healthy diet (aside from just a lot of fresh produce, like you must know I love by now!) is getting a wide variety of color in your produce! Each color is produced from various phytochemicals and nutritional components, and each have important roles in health.

And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I wanted to focus on the red colors since red is for love (*insert cheesy “awwwww” here*) Plus, the dark reds and purples are for – can ya guess? – heart health!

Foods like grapes, blueberries, strawberries, eggplant, açaí, cherries, raspberries, and red apples are colored that way in part because of anthocyanin pigments. These flavonoids are a great source of antioxidants that help protect you from heart disease. Anthocyanins have been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body's organ systems.

When picking out fruits for their anthocyanin properties, make sure you get them fresh or frozen. Anthocyanin is water soluble and relatively delicate, so processing often destroys it. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found anthocyanin levels of red/purple foods were almost undetectable in canned foods.

So enjoy your fresh red and purple foods; indulge in some Spiced Walnut Truffles for your heart; curl up with a good romance book or movie; and enjoy your weekend, however you spend it!

Much love!


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