American Heart Month: Heart and hearing healthy recipes
February is the month of love — ask anyone if they don’t feel the warmth of the second month of the year start to glow as the doldrums of January finally ebb into February, which brings Valentine’s Day and of course, the celebration of American Heart Month.
Here at Healthy Hearing we send out Valentines with our kiddos and play Cupid to our loved ones while we’re practicing eating heart-healthy meals as often as we can.
Heart healthy? That means no salt and no fat, which equals no flavor, right?
Heart healthy diets — sure, require reduced sodium and reduced cholesterol — but are still packed with fresh flavor that will make your taste buds forget you didn’t set the table with the salt shaker in its usual place.
Hearing health is connected to heart health
The goal of heart healthy recipes is to maintain healthy levels of cholesterols and fatty molecules called lipids. This is done by reducing the bad types of cholesterol, mainly low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which are harmful to the heart. What does high LDL have to do with hearing loss? One study in the Ear Nose & Throat Journal indicated that hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness were caused by elevated blood lipids. The fix? Lowering those LDLs improved the symptoms in 83 percent of the patients within five months of treatment. Subsequent studies have supported these results.
So what food constitutes heart healthy? A quick Google search will give you thousands of articles on the top heart healthy foods in the world. There’s salmon and blueberries and coffee and avocado and dark chocolate and tomatoes and nuts ... and on and on. The list almost seems to go on forever. That’s why we’ve created a sample menu for you to try out one day this month in an effort to eat hearing and heart healthy.
- Oatmeal with blueberries
Directions: Make oatmeal per directions, add ½ cup blueberries. For an extra heart healthy punch, try swirling some almond butter into your oatmeal. That’s a meal that’ll stick with you all day!
Even if you're in a hurry, you can still make oatmeal quickly in the microwave while you're brewing your coffee. You're not going to skip the coffee, right?
- BLAT sandwiches
Sure, bacon isn’t necessarily on the heart-friendly list, but avocado and tomatoes are, making the BLAT sandwich — or bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato — a great choice for the heart healthy day, especially if you use naturally lower fat and lower in sodium turkey bacon. Consider using mayonnaise made with olive oil, another healthy fat, instead of traditional mayonnaise as a way to reduce your LDL intake.
Water isn't glamorous but it's always a healthy choice to wash down your meals and snacks. Keeping properly hydrated improves your whole body health. Have a giant glass at lunch, and refill it a time or two throughout the afternoon.
Directions: While bacon is frying, slice tomatoes and avocado and wash and tear lettuce. Toast three slices bread and spread with mayonnaise. Assemble three-tiered sandwich (it’s the only way to have a BLAT). Eat.
- Homemade trail mix
Trail mix can easily be made by many of the ingredients found in a kitchen pantry. Gather your favorite nuts, like almonds, cashews or peanuts, some dried fruit — raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries, homemade popcorn, Chinese crackers and/or some dark chocolate chips. Toss them together for a hearing and heart-friendly snack that's sure to please the whole family.
- Salmon steaks in spicy tomato sauce
- Red wine
A favorite recipe that’s definitely not one to miss isn’t a Hearing Healthy original, but rather one from Bon Appetit. Click to find the recipe for salmon steaks in spicy tomato sauce on their website.
The antioxidants in red wine have long been connected to heart health in the popular media, although its benefits haven't proven out as well in human studies as in mice. We think it couldn't hurt to have a glass, just in case.
- Dark chocolate
Pick the dark chocolate of your choice! Our favorite brands include Dandelion Chocolate, Alter Ego, Theo. Sure, a bar will run you a bit more than the typical Hershey’s Bar, but the health benefits — yes, there are some, including getting your fill of those good Omega 3s — are worth the extra buck.
Pistachios have also been linked to heart health, so if you've already had your fill of dark chocolate in your trail mix, consider a handful of pistachios to end your meal. Or make a truly decadent dessert by melting some dark chocolate in a double boiler and coating your pistachios.
Heart healthy = hearing healthy
Remember, every step you take to improve the health of your heart will positively impact your hearing health. So in honor of American Heart Month, try our menu for a day! Let us know what you think in the comments.
Note — if you already have hearing loss, our heart-healthy menu won't be able to improve your ability to hear. Find a hearing care professional near you for a complete hearing examination.