Happy February Friday!

Dark foods like dark chocolate, dark leafy greens, and black beans get their power from their their deep-dark pigments, which contains powerful phytonutrients that can defend against inflammation, lower blood pressure and keep blood flowing smoothly, which are all good for your heart.

Get a scoop of dark goodness today!

Dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) is not only a soothing for your tastebuds, but your heart reaps the rewards, too.

cocoa

Image courtesy of online.wsj.com.

Numerous studies have found a daily dose of dark chocolate to be beneficial for  your cardiovascular system.  A study in the British Medical Journal (2012) of 2,013 people with the metabolic syndrome (i.e., large waistline or “apple shaped”, high triglycerides, and/or insulin resistance) who ate dark chocolate every day showed marked improvement in blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels.  It’s important to note – that an ounce of dark chocolate – about 100 grams of polyphenols (the powerful chemicals inherent in cocoa) is a healthy dose.  Like anything, don’t overdue it.  I enjoy Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Bar!  The make a Wasabi Dark flavor now – I’ve got to try that…

kale

Image courtesy of cbc.ca.

Dark leafy greens like kale, mustard and collard greens are jammed with eye-protecting carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as betacarotene.  Plus, they are packed with vitamin K for blood clotting, iron, and B-vitamins like folate, which is essential for normal reproduction and brain and spine development of a fetus.   You know that  strong aromatic scent of kale - and other cruciferous veggies from the Brassica family like brocolli and Brussel sprouts, comes for chemical compounds called indoles – which have been shown to great to cancer prevention.  Leafy greens contain chemicals called resins, that bind with bile acids to lower cholesterol levels. Should you eat greens raw or cooked?  Steam cooking kale and other greens shows the best results for cholesterol lowering benefits (i.e., bile acid binding) thus, keeping your heart and arteries healthy!

Black beans

Black_beans_serious_eats

Image courtesy of seriouseats.com.

I love beans for their vibrant color and culinary diversity.  Black beans with their rich dark color are sure to be good for you.  Black beans, along with pinto, kidney and navy beans, are part of the Phaseolus vulgaris L. bean species, also called pulses.  They are amazing for your heart with a bevy of fiber (1/2 cup gives you 5 1/2 - 8 grams of total fiber), especially soluble fiber for cholesterol- lowering.  This is why the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends beans as an essential part of their Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes  – think of it as ‘TLC’ for your heart!   Have a heart healthy day! -VSR

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