In honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share some lesser known nutritional gems to help your heart and love life! The first three are totally fun and delicious and the last one is serious information that you need to know.
1) Valentines Day is ALL about chocolate, and happily, good quality cocoa actually is fantastic for your cardiovascular system, mostly due to its exceptionally high levels of antioxidants and its magnesium content. It’s been shown to increase the good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease oxidized bad cholesterol (LDL), as well as decreasing atherosclerotic plaques, blood pressure, and improving blood flow, which is a great thing on Valentine’s Day (if you know what we mean)! If you really want to keep your loved one’s ticker healthy, opt for dark chocolate without any dairy (milk or butter) added. Dairy has been shown to decrease the activity of the antioxidants by a significant amount (1, 2). Check out our Superfood Chocolate Bark recipe!
2) Have you ever heard of the superfood maca? According to superfood researcher David Wolfe, “Maca is widely recognized as supportive to hormone balance and fertility. It promotes virility, libido, and even has been shown to enhance sperm mobility. In the same vein, it is also known as a powerful aphrodisiac for both men and women. Maca provides sustained energy, vitality, and elevated mood. It is particularly helpful for women to promote healthy menstruation and to support the process of menopause.” Of course, none of this has been evaluated by the FDA, but there is evidence from current research and its long history of medicinal use in traditional cultures. We add a tablespoon of gelatinized maca powder to our smoothies and hot cocoa. If you’re a maca newbie, start with a half teaspoon and work up to a tablespoon.
3) You’ve upgraded your white rice to brown rice, but it may be time to take it to the next level. Black rice was once reserved for royalty and their concubines due to its high nutritional content and prized aphrodisiac benefits. In fact, it was known as “forbidden rice” because a commoner caught eating it would be put to death. When you look at the rice very closely, you’ll notice that it’s actually a deep, gorgeous purple. The purple hue comes from anthocyanins, the powerful antioxidants found in grapes and wine that are widely known to be great for your heart (and skin and brain too!). Try our Forbidden Black Rice or roll some sushi with it!
4) Although everybody and their brother are taking fish oil to protect their hearts, accumulating research has shown that fish oil does not protect your cardiovascular system and may lead to an aggressive form of prostate cancer. A huge meta-analysis of the data confirms that fish oil supplements are likely pointless for preventing heart disease. There are much better ways for keeping your heart and prostate healthy – including eating more colorful plant foods, nuts and seeds, and decreasing your intake of inflammatory omega 6 oils like vegetable, corn, and safflower oil. Replace these oils with healthier olive, coconut, avocado, and grapeseed oils (organic, cold pressed, in a glass bottle). Most commercial dressings are made with inflammatory oils, so they actually make your healthy salad kind of unhealthy! It is so quick and easy to make your own delicious dressings with healthier oils and nuts.
Wishing you a healthy, happy heart and lots of love!
Image credit: flowmind on flickr.com