Healthy Heart for a Happy Valentines

Valentines Day is almost here and bright red and pink hearts are everywhere. From the drawings brought home by our children to proudly hang on the fridge to heart-shaped boxes of chocolates in retailers’ windows, not to mention the abundance of online ads from jewellers and florists. What a great time to focus our attention on the heart and its importance to our overall health and happiness.

While heart shapes symbolize love, romance and happiness, none of these are possible for an extended time if we don’t take heart health seriously. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. What are Pulses? Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed namely dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils. Very high in protein, fibre & folate and low in fat, Pulses are heart friendly, proven to lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, strengthen blood vessels and generally improve the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and eliminate waste.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, high-fiber foods such as chickpeas help prevent heart disease. People eating the most fiber per day had 12% less coronary heart disease and 11% less cardiovascular disease compared to those eating the least. And people eating soluble fiber had a 15% reduction in heart disease! About one-third of the fiber in chickpeas is soluble fiber and this type of fiber is most closely associated with supporting heart health by acting as a ‘sponge’ to help clean up the bile, containing that bad cholesterol. These benefits can be experienced in as little as one month by simply adding just ¾ cup of chickpeas to your family’s daily diet!

Additionally, many health professionals suggest reducing the amount of animal protein consumed, namely red meat, to lower bad cholesterol and improve blood pressure. Luckily, pulses are an excellent alternative source of both clean protein and iron!

This month, so traditionally associated with the heart, is the perfect time to start adding heart healthy foods to your family’s diet. Try Chickapea Pasta, hummus, chili con carne, baked beans, chana masala, soups with chickpeas and lentils – the options are endless. How about one of these incredible recipes featured by Pulse Canada.