It's American Heart Month again, and this time - in 2018 - we know too much to let heart-related illness continue to rise in the U.S. Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death, linked to 1 in every 4 fatalities. Anyone can read the articles and say "eat less of this," "exercise more," and "stop this bad habit," but we all know time-starved working families can still struggle to find the healthiest foods or find an hour every day to get their heart rates up. So we've found some simple, attainable ways to support heart health because every little bit counts, especially when it comes to the marvel that is our blood-pumping, traffic-directing, people-loving ticker.
1. Take care of your teeth
What do teeth have to do with your heart? Well, they're an excellent indicator of overall health, as cavities and gum disease have just as much to do with the blood stream as cardiovascular diseases. Oral bacteria can make its way to your heart and cause inflammation. Cauliflower is one of many foods that you might call "nature's tooth brush." Along with apples, celery, carrots, and anything with a crunch, cauliflower's abrasive outer layer can literally scrub your teeth, keeping them healthier. The recommended daily values of dairy can also work to improve dental health, due to the lactic acid that can protect your teeth from decay, and the calcium, which can strengthen teeth from the root. A cauliflower crust pizza might be the 15 minute hack you didn't know your teeth (and heart) might need!
2. Eating healthy doesn't mean yo-yo crash diets
With dieting, the key is consistency. Cutting out the bad stuff is great - no one needs trans fats. But there are ways to eat healthy without shocking your system. The easiest way to eat foods at peak nutrition and maintain a steady variety of good foods is to eat seasonally. We recommend farmer's market shopping, as the choices are limited to what farmers are growing at the time. When you're in a rush, more and more grocery stores are highlighting seasonal fruits and veggies with their own section. And to save even more time, the freezer aisle is a worthwhile excursion, as many of those foods (like CAULIPOWER!) are frozen at their nutritious peak, locking in vibrant color, vitamins, and nutrients. Cauliflower is at its best in the winter - that's right now! So what better time to turn to a heart-healthy superfood as the base for more seasonal veggies. Cauliflower crust is a delicious vehicle for your fave produce, and building your own can be a fun activity with the whole family. In partnership with One Sun, a program planting edible gardens in underserved schools to combat obesity and teach kids to enjoy veggies from an early age, we've supported a variety of cooking classes that get kids to enjoy the whole process - so we're helping even the littlest hearts develop heart-healthy habits!
3. You don't need a gym membership to get your heart rate up
First, let's start with the obvious. The recommended 30 minutes of cardio per day seems easy to squeeze in, but sometimes, there just aren't enough half hours in the day. But there are many other things you're already doing that get your heart pumping. If you're a neat freak - good news! Zig-zagging across your home with a duster or broom gets you closer to your 10,000 steps and gets your heart rate going, even if it doesn't feel like it. Dog owners - extend your walk just a little bit each day, and you're giving your heart (and furry friend) some love! No matter what you like doing, even if it's not traditional exercise, there are easy tasks you can fit into your busy day to meet your exercise (and errand) goals.
4. Make your heart your mantra
Stress, lack of sleep, financial distress - all of these things can be silent attackers on your heart. Even our CEO & founder has had a stress-related wake up call, so she vowed, in writing, to help her fellow women take time to take care of themselves. Try a meditation app - we like Headspace or Stop, Breathe, Think. Meditation may support healthier sleep, reduced stress, and enhanced mood. Like your teeth, your brain is just as connected to your heart health, so show it some love, too!
We're so glad we got to have this heart-to-heart with you <3