conscious eating

Foods Your Heart

this unforgettable line to her husband and fellow poet, Robert Browning. Let us also count the ways to improve

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our loved ones’ heart health: Lower blood pressure. Modulate irregular heartbeats. Avoid plaque build-up in arteries. Improve blood flow to the heart. We can love our hearts with 10 super-

foods that just might make perfect ingre- dients for a Valentine’s Day meal, starting with dark chocolate.

Cocoa powder. Cacao’s flavanols lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and act as antioxidants to

prevent inflammation. Dr. JoAnn E. Man- son, a physician, doctor of public health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, confirms, “Between 400 and 900 milligrams (mg) a day of cocoa flavanols may favorably affect several mechanisms and pathways related to cardio- vascular disease prevention.” Not all

chocolate is created equal. Man- son recom- mends chocolate

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ow do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning once penned

in oily fish are also widely known to treat atherosclerosis, normalize heart rhythms and help lower blood pressure, choles- terol and triglyceride levels, as well as significantly lower the risk of stroke.

Will Love Top 10 Heart Healthy Choices by Judith Fertig

with cocoa or cacao as the first ingredient, not sugar. She and her colleagues are cur- rently conducting the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study, a large- scale, randomized study of 18,000 U.S. men and women testing the benefits of ingesting 600 mg per day of cocoa flavanols.

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Raspberries. Just one-half cup of berries a day can

provide plenty of phy- tonutrients and antioxidants for decreasing inflammation and preventing heart disease, says Wendy Bazilian, a doctor of public health and registered dietitian in San Diego, and author ofTe SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients. “Whirl them into a breakfast smoothie, add them to a green salad or combine them with dark chocolate for a tasty, heart-healthy dessert,” she advises.

Salmon. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, wild-caught salmon

(about two six- ounce week- ly servings) helps reduce systemic inflammation and risk of developing atherosclerosis, hypertension and stroke, according to Dr. Josh Axe, of Nashville, Tennessee. Beyond prevention, omega-3s

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Pumpkin seeds. High in mag- nesium—about 764 mg per cup— roasted pumpkin seeds, or pepitas,

top the list of heart-healthy nuts and seeds. Magnesium is an important electro- lyte that helps the heart fire on all cylinders and not skip a beat. Improve- ments in lipid profiles can occur with a daily intake of 365 mg, or about a half-cup, of pepitas. Enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack or scatter them in a salad, bowl of chili or soup for a delicious crunch.

Avocados. Fresh avocados supply mag- nesium, plus they’re a

good source of potassium, another electrolyte the heart needs for optimum func- tioning. “You probably know bananas and citrus fruits are top sources of potassium, but I like avocados because they also supply healthy fats,” says Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, a board-certified cardiolo- gist with the HeartMD Institute, in Manches- ter, Connecticut.

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Almonds. Sinatra rec- ommends a

handful of almonds a day to raise HDL, a form of “good” choles- terol he likens to a “lipid garbage truck” that picks up oxidized “bad” LDL in the bloodstream and carries it to the liver for processing.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Cold- pressed extra-vir-

gin olive oil with a high phenol content can help

Anna Hoychuk/

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