Needless to say, your heart performs some pretty important functions, and in order to keep it healthy the key areas of concern are blood vessels, the heart muscle itself, blood volume, and hormone and neurotransmitter regulation.
In order for the blood vessels to properly oxygenate tissue, carry nutrients around your body AND to keep your heart healthy, they need to stay elastic and free of congestion. One of the main enemies of blood vessels is cholesterol, which can clog arteries, encourage blood clotting and lead to hypertension that further burdens the heart. An excessive amount of sodium is also detrimental to the heart as it increases blood volume and encourages hypertension.
This is may seem just scientific and not very romantic, but there is a very real connection between how you feel and how your heart functions. Stress worry and upset all increase the neurotransmitters that make the heart work harder, and if you suffer these emotions over a long period of time your heart function does suffer! Conversely happy and relaxed feelings can lower blood pressure and make for a much happier heart!
In light of this, some very important dietary recommendations are to reduce cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium intake, and also to include other foods which will actually help prevent heart disease and dysfunction and encourage optimal heart function. These include salmon, quinoa, tuna, walnuts, brown rice, blueberries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, red peppers, asparagus, papaya, tea, and (happily) dark chocolate.
So, if you’re cooking up a storm at home, why not put some of these into action? Grab a glass of red wine, a box of dark chocolate truffles (the chemical compounds are related to relaxation), and try out the following salad with some grilled salmon! It’s quite literally a recipe for happiness!
Quinoa, Feta and Pomegranate Salad
One red onion, finely chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled
200g pomegranates seeds from tub or fruit
85g toasted pine nuts or toasted flaked almonds
Handful of rocket
Handful of spinach
Small pack each coriander, flat leaf parsley and mint, roughly chopped
Juice of three lemons
Dash of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Cook the quinoa following pack instructions – it should be tender but with a little bite.
Drain well and spread over a platter or wide, shallow bowl to cool quickly and steam dry.
When the quinoa is just about cool stir through all of the remaining ingredients with plenty of seasoning.
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