With February being Heart Health Month, this time of year always has me reminiscing about my grandfather, who tragically lost his life after suffering from heart disease and other health problems. I was very close with him, so this was the toughest loss I have had to deal with to date. Not a day goes by that he isn't in my thoughts and I still feel his presence so I always try to make him proud. He was kind and gentle in spirit, but also incredibly strong and courageous, as he was a holocaust survivor./p>
My grandfather suffered from heart attacks starting at the age of 55 while my mother was away at college. She told me about the day that she received a phone call saying that he had a heart attack and was in the emergency room, describing it as the worst day of her life. Thankfully, he survived that heart attack after a bypass operation, but he ultimately suffered two more heart attacks and had a triple bypass operation. He was lucky enough to live to almost 90 years old, which is a true miracle to me. Ironically, he ended up passing away of a Stage 4 brain tumor, as everyone always thought it would be another heart attack that would end his life./p>
I think it would be so important for my grandfather to know that I am taking good care of my health – especially my heart. Knowing about my family history of heart disease, eating heart-healthy foods is extremely important to me. That is why I stick to a clean, whole foods diet rich in healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut, nuts, nut butter, and olive oil. I also eat fish high in omega-3s, such as wild salmon./p>
In addition to healthy fats, I also incorporate a lot of heart-heathy superfoods into my daily diet, including raw Cacao. Cacao is the plant from which chocolate is made and is rich in flavanols, which can help lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. It also acts as an antioxidant, which can keep “bad” cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls. I always choose dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) to get more flavanols and less sugar. I love adding a tablespoon of Navitas raw Cacao Powder to my oatmeal and smoothies./p>
Berries are also full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. I usually add fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to my smoothies or oatmeal, and top them with some Navitas dried Goji Berries and Mulberries./p>
In addition to having a diet rich in heart-healthy foods, I try to be active every day. Even a small amount of cardiovascular exercise can improve your heart health, so I take long walks with my daughter every morning and enjoy taking Spin, Kickboxing, Pilates, and Yoga classes. I love switching up my workout routine and it feels so good to get my heart pumping each day – even if it's just a brisk walk!/p>
I hope I've inspired you to eat more heart-healthy superfoods and take good care of your health. We only have one life to live, so treat your body with the respect that it deserves.