I hope that you’ve kicked the New Year off with a bang and set intentions for 2015 to be a year full of dreams fulfilled and health and happiness achieved. How about those resolutions or new healthy habits? Are you ditching the soda and drinking more water? Cutting back on processed foods? Making self-care a priority?
Although January has ended, it gives us no reason to throw our New Year’s Resolutions out the window. February brings us Valentine’s Day and perhaps my favorite holiday, Heart Health Month. This is a time to focus on this amazing organ that sustains us and provides life-giving oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our body. So my question for you is...
What have YOU done for your heart lately?
Regardless of your relationship status, I encourage you to see this holiday of romance through a different lens. Why not make a date with your health and your heart this year? Since every day should be a celebration of love and not just this sanctioned holiday, I encourage you to focus on being your own loving Valentine! There isn’t a more beautiful expression of love than prioritizing your health and learning what being heart-healthy means for yourself and your family. And remember, we can be so much more present for others when we take care of ourselves first.
Here are some of my favorite strategies to kick-start your way towards a heart-healthy lifestyle this month:
1. HEART HEALTHY FOODS
There are certain foods that protect our hearts because they contain omega-3’s and other healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients that help keep our heart tissues healthy and happy. The following are a list of heart-healthy foods I encourage you to incorporate into your daily routine:
- Fruits – Oranges, strawberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, pomegranates, avocados, blueberries
- Avocados – The folate in avocados lowers risk of heart disease and stroke and is rich in oleic acid, a fat that helps lower your bad “LDL” blood cholesterol and raise your good “HDL” cholesterol
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, bok choy, daikon, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, turnips, arugala, radish, kale
- Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, swiss chard, romaine
- Garlic, Onions, and Leeks – The sulfur-containing compounds in these vegetables help to relax and enlarge blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow
- Raw Cacao – Unlike processed chocolate, the antioxidants that protect our cells and limit inflammation are preserved in raw cacao. Raw cacao is full of flavonoids that reduce blood clotting and has been studied to increase flexibility of blood vessels. It's your lucky day, chocolate lovers! If you can't find raw chocolate, look for dark chocolate that has 75-85% cacao and stay away from any dark chocolates with ingredients you can't pronounce!
- Beans and Lentils – Studies show that people who ate beans and lentils at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate them less than once per week. I encourage you to soak your nuts for 12-24 hours for proper digestion!
- Slow-cooked Oatmeal – This fiber-rich superfood is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It's also known to lower levels of bad “LDL” cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Please opt for slow-cooked steel-cut over instant oatmeal!
- Raw Nuts – Raw nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts are known to boost the good mono and polyunsaturated fats. I encourage you to soak your nuts for 12-24 hours for proper digestion!
- Fish – Memorize this acronym, SMASH, when looking for fish rich in omega 3’s: Sardines, Mackerel,Anchovies, Salmon, and Herring. Always look for wild, not farmed!
- Ground Flaxseed – An amazing plant source of omega-3's that are full of fiber, lower cholesterol, contain lignans which reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer, and taste great in smoothies, oatmeal, and salads
2. MOVE YOUR BODY
Moving your body is an important part of your heart-healthy routine. Moving your body can mean something as simple as walking your dog around your neighborhood, kayaking, bike riding, trying out a pilates or cardio class at a local studio (I highly recommend Pilates X), or going to a Tai Chi class. Always find opportunities for fitness by parking further away, taking the stairs, or doing yard work. Yes, even the gardening and house cleaning you do counts as exercise! As long as you are active, you can control your weight, boost circulation, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol levels. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day!
3. REDUCE YOUR SALT INTAKE
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and by reducing your salt intake, you can help lower blood pressure. Experiment with herbs in place of salt such as basil (delicious in salads, soups, pastas), thyme(great with roasted veggies & chicken), mint (sprinkle on salads, grains, or infuse into your water), or dill (great on salmon, in soup, on roasted carrots and turnips). Always make sure you read food labels to see how much salt is in prepared foods. When in doubt, ask for sauce and salad dressings on the side when you eat out because restaurants tend to over-do the salt.
4. PRACTICE YOGA
Research shows that yoga can reduce blood pressure, improve arterial elasticity, regulate heart rhythm, and increase the heart's efficiency. Regardless of your age, size, strength, flexibility, or beliefs, yoga is for everyone. Intimidated by yoga studios? Try a beginner class with me at Marina Vista Park or sign up for a 15-day free trial at www.yogaglo.com and have access to thousands of amazing classes in the comfort of your own home!
5. REDUCE STRESS & BREATHE
Stress raises blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Something as simple as breathing deeply for five short minutes upon waking and before sleep can make profound changes in your life.With your eyes closed, practice inhaling deeply into the belly and exhaling slowly. If that doesn't work, try this one-minute breath meditation. Breathe in for 5 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds. Hold for 5 seconds. Practice this breath pattern for one minute a day and see how you feel after a few days!
6. CATCH UP ON YOUR SLEEP
Did you know those if you sleep fewer than seven hours a night, you are putting your heart at risk? The less sleep you get, the higher your blood pressure is, along with the levels of cortisol, making your arteries more vulnerable to plaque build-up. Try to avoid caffeine after noon and find a stress-free ritual that allows you to wind down before you head to sleep. Hey, why don't you practice the one-minute breath meditation before you climb into bed!
ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT HOW HOLISTIC NUTRITION AND HEALTH COACHING CAN HELP YOU UPGRADE YOUR HEALTH NATURALLY?
Would you like to learn how to incorporate heart-healthier foods into your busy lifestyle? Or how about how to plan heart-healthy meals and snacks for the entire family to enjoy? If you are struggling with a health condition, digestive issues, pain and inflammation, or just want to improve your sense of well-being, holistic nutrition and health coaching could be the right solution for you. Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today by clicking here, or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
NAMASTE HOLISTIC HEALTH NEWS AND UPDATES
- KIDS YOGA - I will be teaching a kids yoga class (ages 3-7) in a local Long Beach park starting in mid-March on Sunday afternoons. In this 45-minute class, we'll incorporate asana (yoga poses) and pranayama (breath work) into highly imaginative play. Each class will help build strength, increase flexibility, improve concentration, and will be tons of fun! Advance registration is recommended, as class is limited to 10 students only. If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Classes are $5.00/child.
- BEGINNERS YOGA - I will be teaching an adult beginners yoga class in a local Long Beach park starting mid-March on Sunday afternoons. We'll focus on connecting gentle movement with breath in a flow-style class. This 50-minute session will bring relaxation, energy, and joy. Advance registration is recommended, as class is limited to 10 students only. If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com! Classes are $7.00/adult.
In honor of Heart Health Month, I am offering the following promotions:
- $25 OFF my 11-Day Guided Cleanse, www.namasteholistichealth.com/whole-foods-cleanse/.Use the coupon code: HEART11
- $40 OFF my 28-Day Clean Eating Program, www.namasteholistichealth.com/reboot-28/. Use the coupon code: HEART28
- $50 OFF my 3-month Coaching Program, www.namasteholistichealth.com/coaching/. Use the coupon code: HEARTCOACHING
In Love & Health,
Koko Collado <3