How to LOVE your Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a new little Valentine this year (in addition to my sweet husband), so it will be an extra special one for us. Since it is the day of L-O-V-E, I thought it was only appropriate to talk about how we can love our heart through food! One of the most famous quotes from Hippocrates states ‘let food be thy medicine’ and I believe that statement is so true. What we put into our body either fuels us or hinders us, so it’s important to eat the right foods to make sure we are taking care of ourselves!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – proving how crucial it is that we take care of this important organ! One of the best ways to take care of our hearts is to follow a plant based diet (or as close to one as possible)! Believe me when I say it’s hard to switch the mindset away from the idea to always have meat at every meal. I used to think a meal was only complete when a piece of chicken, fish or beef was on my plate. But lately, I have been trying to focus more on meatless meals to challenge myself and my family to follow a more plant based diet. In fact, did you know that the American Dietetic Association position’s on a vegetarian diet is that, when the diet is well planned, it is nutritionally adequate and even provides additional health benefits.

A plant based diet is one that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts/ legumes. Multiple research studies confirm that a plant based diet significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. The nutritional properties of these foods prevent and even fight off disease and include fiber, minerals and antioxidant vitamins. A plant based diet can be daunting to think about, so instead, try focusing on having at least one fruit and vegetable at each meal. And, if you are already doing that, try incorporating additional servings of colorful vegetables in place of other items you may be eating. From there, try making one dinner each week meatless – whether it is vegetable soup with beans and chickpeas, quinoa broccoli bites, eggplant chili without the ground turkey or roasted vegetable lasgana.  For a protein source, there are quite a few vegetarian and vegan sources that you can include at your meal that will keep you fuller for longer. Then, continue to increase the number of times a week that you are going meatless. Soon, it will be second nature to eat this way!

So, today I challenge you to think about your dinner plans for the week. Is there one meal that you could make “meatless” instead?

Happy heart day! 🙂

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