By Letha Hadady, D.Ac.
Hard work, stress, and aging require a healthy heart lifestyle. These red foods protect your heart: Tomato, tart cherry, cranberry, red and purple grapes, red pears, and pomegranate cool inflammation that damages blood vessels.
Cayenne peppers help reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation. Cultures where hot peppers are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism. Add a dash of hot pepper sauce to low sodium tomato vegetable juice and cut it with water to reduce sugar. You might add a dash of cayenne to your salad dressing.
Try a refreshing watermelon, tomato, red onion and arugula salad. The red ingredients enhance circulation. Here are two stars among heart healthy foods: Tomatoes and cherries.
Numerous scientific studies find that women with the highest intake of lycopene-rich tomato-based foods have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. Aside from lycopene, tomatoes are loaded with vitamins A, C and E and have few calories.
In a five-year health study of nearly 40,000 middle-aged and elderly women, as the women’s blood levels of lycopene went up, risk for cardiovascular disease significantly dropped to a 50 percent reduced risk compared to women with the lowest blood levels of lycopene. Why? Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and help prevent unwanted clumping together (aggregation) of platelet cells in the blood, a factor especially important in lowering risk of heart problems like atherosclerosis.
Conventionally grown cherry tomatoes typically have pesticide residues. Buy local and organic. Avoid tomato leaf, which causes poisoning.
Quick Tomato Aspic
Here is a sweet treat made in minutes without sugar. Store it in the refrigerator. Serve it with vegetable dishes, kafir or salads. Serves 4
2 – 3 packages of unflavored gelatin (Knox Gelatine or vegan)
¼ cup cold low sodium tomato juice
2 cups thinly sliced fresh organic cherry tomatoes
1 cup boiling hot Earl Grey tea
¼ tsp stevia powder
Mix the unflavored gelatin powder with the cold juice in a bowl, let it stand one minute until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the hot tea and sliced tomatoes, stevia and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a sterilized glass container or dessert mold. Refrigerate it overnight to set the aspic. If you use one packet of gelatin instead of two it will be soft enough to use as jelly. Store the jelly up to two weeks in refrigerator or one year in the freezer.
Pretty and delicious tart cherries are super foods. For heart health, I recommend adding at least one teaspoon of tart cherry juice to tea twice daily. The sour taste is cheery, refreshing and reduces chronic inflammatory discomforts.
Tart cherries get their deep red color from disease-fighting phenols called anthocyanins. Slightly more than three ounces (100 grams) of tart cherry juice concentrate delivers four times the necessary amount needed to maintain a good antioxidant defense system. A quarter cup of dried tart cherries daily is enough to keep you healthy.
Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that tart cherries surpass antioxidants like red wine, dark chocolate and orange juice. Regularly enjoying tart cherries may also improve sleep. If insomnia is weakening your vitality, here’s a nice little recipe to give you more ZZZs.
Baked cherry banana
Bananas are high fiber and contain phytochemicals that protect against stomach ulcers. If you are hungry at bedtime, consider a satisfying comfort food baked cherry banana.
1 ripe banana peeled and cut into several pieces
1 tablespoon tart cherry concentrate
1 teaspoon unsweetened shredded coconut
Coat the banana with cherry concentrate and dip the pieces in the coconut. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until it is soft. Enjoy this with a cup of warm water adding 3 tablespoons of tart cherry concentrate.
Brighten your dishes with lively red foods and live longer and better. For healthy aging and longevity, increase optimal nutrition with the fewest calories.
You can find more Heart Healthy Recipes at www.asianhealthsecrets.com. You may also be limited by time, space, or experience. Here is a pill to keep your heart happy: Pterostilobene similar to resveratrol reduces cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood sugar reducing hypertension and diabetes. Do your best and let the red foods do the rest.
Letha Hadady, D.Ac. (www.asianhealthsecrets.com) is a leading expert on natural health and beauty treatments and is a best-selling author.