American Heart Month: Heart and hearing healthy recipes
As the post-holiday doldrums of January finally fade, February brings celebrations of the heart with Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month. The heart helps us feel warm and fuzzy when we’re in love, and it plays a vital role in the function of our bodies.
Good heart health means good hearing health, so don’t limit your celebrations of the heart to just one month. Instead, practice eating heart healthy meals as often as you can.
If you think eating healthful foods means sacrificing flavor, we hope to prove you wrong.
Hearing health is connected to heart health
The goal of heart healthy recipes is to maintain proper levels of cholesterol and fatty molecules called lipids. This is done by reducing bad types of cholesterol, mainly low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which can be harmful to the heart.
What does high LDL have to do with hearing loss? One study in the Ear Nose & Throat Journal showed 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.
When eating a heart healthy diet, eat mindfully and enjoy the great variety of foods you can and should eat more frequently. A quick Google search on the subject will give you thousands of articles on the best foods. There’s salmon, blueberries, coffee, dark leafy greens, avocado, dark chocolate, red wine, tomatoes, nuts and so much more. There is a seemingly endless array of delicious foods.
Improving your diet can seem overwhelming at first, so take it one day at a time. To get you started, we’ve created a sample menu for just one day. Don’t stop there! With a little planning and focus, you can improve both your heart health and your hearing health.
- Steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and hemp seeds
Make oatmeal per directions, add ½ cup blueberries and sprinkle with hemp seeds. For an extra heart healthy punch, try swirling some almond butter into your oatmeal to make an even more substantial meal.
Avoid instant oatmeal since it has a higher glycemic index than traditional oats, and unless it’s plain, it can be loaded with added sugar. If you’re pressed for time in the morning, make a large batch of steel cut oats and reheat it in portions all week long.
Blueberries provide a good dose of antioxidants and super food hemp seeds contain an ideal ratio of healthy fats and some compounds thought to lower blood pressure, according to Dr. Weil.
- BLAT salad
Avocado, leafy greens and tomatoes are good for heart health. The BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) salad is a great lunch choice, especially if you use naturally lower fat and lower sodium turkey bacon. Use a mix of dark greens like leaf lettuce, spinach and baby kale since they contain more vitamins, antioxidants and flavor than bland iceberg lettuce. Try a dressing made with extra-virgin olive oil, another healthy fat, to reduce your LDL intake.
Simply layer all salad ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle on the dressing and enjoy.
Water is always a healthy choice to wash down your meals and snacks. Keeping properly hydrated improves your overall health. Have a giant glass at lunch, and refill it a time or two throughout the afternoon. Squeeze in some fresh lemon for flavor and a dose of vitamin C.
- Homemade trail mix
Trail mix can easily be made with ingredients in your kitchen pantry. Gather your favorite nuts, like almonds, cashews or peanuts, some dried fruit like raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries, homemade popcorn, and maybe 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
Seek out fresh wild salmon since it has several health advantages compared to farmed salmon, says Prevention Magazine. One of our favorite ways to enjoy salmon is prepared according to this Bon Appetit magazine recipe that features a zesty lycopene-rich tomato sauce.
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 animal studies. We think it couldn't hurt to have a glass, just in case.
- Dark chocolate
Some wonderful chocolates include brands like Dandelion Chocolate, Alter Eco, Askinosie and Theo. The health benefits and artisan quality of these delicious bars come at a higher price than a typical Hershey’s Bar, but they are worth it.
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, too. In honor of American Heart Month, try our sample menu and let us know what you think in the comments.
The right foods can help maintain good hearing, but if you already have hearing loss, even the healthiest diet won't be able to reverse it. If you or someone you love needs help, find a hearing care professional near you for a complete hearing examination. It’s easy, painless and it could improve all areas of your life.