February is heart health month. Real food is good for your heart. Processed food is NOT. If you only made this one simple change your heart would be healthier and your overall general health would be improved in many ways.
Vegetables are very good for your heart. Vegetables contain minerals that support heart health. Beets and celery in particular are beneficial, they play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Beets are high in nitrate, which the body turns into a gas called nitric oxide. This is important for lowering blood pressure in two ways:
- Nitric oxide relaxes the smooth muscles in your blood vessels. This helps your arteries stay properly dilated.
- Nitric oxide also has an anti-platelet effect that helps prevent blood from thickening and clotting.
Together, these support easier blood flow, which means lower blood pressure. (1)
I enjoy adding beets to smoothies, roasting them as a side dish and grating them for salads. Beets come in several varieties. I am fascinated by that regardless of the variety they all have the same flavor. Best known are red beets, less familiar are chioggia and golden beets. Chioggia beets are striped like candy canes. Beets are easy to grow in the garden.
Here is a link for a recipe using beets as the sweetener for brownies, Paleo Beet Brownies.
Celery is considered the number one of the foods that lower blood pressure. In addition to a lot of water, celery has magnesium, potassium, calcium and 3-n-butyl phthalide or chemicals that help keep our circulatory system healthy. Additionally, celery seeds have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to being rich in iron and vitamins.
Note: Celery Seeds may cause stomach upset for some people.
How Much? The father of a medical student who first studied this found that by eating 1/4 pound of celery (about 1/4 of the stalk) a day, even without changing the way he ate other foods, his blood pressure came back to normal inside a week.
Turns out celery contains a chemical that relaxes the smooth muscles of blood vessels. This helps make them wider and lowers blood pressure.
Best eaten raw. Add a stalk to your fruit smoothie to balance the sugar with the salt in the celery. (2)
Celery is easy to find at any local grocery store. I add celery to smoothies, chop it for salads and include in soups. Another way to enjoy celery is to fill the groove with soft cheese or nut butter. My favorite filler is almond butter.
Often sodium intake is a concern if your blood pressure is elevated. An interesting fact for you to consider: Vegetarians have a lower incidence of elevated blood pressure even when their sodium levels are the same as a non-vegetarian. Their potassium levels are higher, due to their increased consumption of vegetables.
Here’s a simple recipe for a healthy snack you can make and enjoy yourself or with your children:
Ants on a Log
Cut celery stalks into 3-4″ pieces
Fill with nut butter (or seed butter)
Top with raisins
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