Why Weight?

6 Foods That Can Save Your Heart

By Bob on September 4, 2013 4:43 AM

The South is my home and along with a good southern upbringing I was also raised on a good Southern diet. Down here it isn't 8 glasses of water a day that keeps us healthy, it's the 8 glasses of gravy **kidding**.

Like every area of the country, we struggle with heart disease in the south. It's the number one cause of death in the U.S. and there are plenty of reasons why heart disease is such a killer.

Top of the list has to be diet. It's surprising when you consider all of the GOOD things we can eat that actually HELP our hearts. Here are 6 that are probably in your home right now. 

6 Foods That Can Save Your Heart

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1. Cayenne Chili Pepper

Charlotte likes everything spicy (why do you think she married me?) but peppers of any kind are a staple in our diet. Researchers say that putting just a little hot chili powder on food may help prevent a spike in insulin levels after meals. An Australian study showed that simply adding chili to a hamburger meal produced lower insulin levels in overweight volunteers.

Tip: Chili powder is a blend of five spices and it's a good substitute for salt in recipes.

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2. Red Wine and Resveratrol

Red wine is our go-to drink at Boomer Brief HQ. It's good to know that it's also a heart-healthy choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may protect artery walls and alcohol can also boost HDL (that's the GOOD cholesterol).

Tip: Don't go crazy on this tip - keep it to one drink a day for women; one to two drinks for men. Too much alcohol actually hurts the heart.

Olive Oil-600.jpg3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

How can you tell the "virgin" olive oil from the shall we say, "more experienced" olive oil? It's an old joke, but the truth is that extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press of olives. It's especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. Using olive oil to replace saturated fat (think butter), it can help lower cholesterol levels. Polyphenols may protect blood vessels.

Tip: Use olive oil in salads, on cooked veggies and with bread (we like to add in a little cracked black pepper for an added kick).


4. Carrots

These slightly-sweet veggies are a staple of Charlotte's diet. She likes the crunch, but the delicious dish also helps control blood sugar levels and can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Carrots are a top cholesterol-fighting food, thanks to ample amounts of soluble fiber.

Tip: Add shredded carrots into spaghetti sauce and muffins for a heart-healthy boost.

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5. Low-Fat Yogurt

I eat low-fat yogurt for breakfast just about every day. It's a good way to help control high blood pressure,  and the calcium and potassium are important minerals.

Tip: For a little crunch and some added fiber, sprinkle some Grape-Nuts cereal into your low-fat yogurt.


6. Coffee

If you're like me you can't get going in the morning without your coffee. Turns out that's not really a bad thing. Coffee and tea may help protect your heart by preventing type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have shown that people who drink 3-4 cups a day may cut their risk by 25% -- and even decaffeinated coffee works.

Tip: Drink it black to limit fat and calories. 

Why Weight? is a column on diet, nutrition and making better choices so you can live a longer healthier life. The authors are not doctors and nothing here should be taken as medical advice. Always consult your physician before making any changes in diet, exercise, nutrition or cell phone provider (Let's face it doctors are just really, really smart, they know a lot about a lot of stuff). Our goal is simple: We want all Baby Boomers to live long enough to get back the money they've paid into Social Security. Remember, your children's inheritance isn't going to spend itself. It's up to you


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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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