Food for Heart

As I age, I find I’m riddled with aches and pains. And I’m stumped. What the heck happened? I look like I’m in shape. I eat healthy. I exercise. What’s going on?

Blueberry & yogurt stock photo

My first impulse is to scream and whine and jump up and down, screeching “This isn’t fair! I’m too young for this!” While I might feel better afterward, my family would be peer at me quizzically whispering, “She’s done it. She’s finally gone over the edge.”

Hmph. So much for sympathy from the ones who love me.  On a positive note, it would behoove me to remember that aches and pains and old age beat the alternative. I’m alive. I’m having a good time. So what if I have to bend over and stretch every now again (careful–the lower back discs can’t take too much of it) or slowly ease my way out of bed in the morning (so I don’t pull something on the way out). Once I get warmed up, I’m good to go, ready to hit the ground running!

But with age, I feel I’m growing in wisdom. Granted this is a highly debatable subject among my inner circle but I’m going to ignore debate and share a little secret. Eating healthy is a mindset. It’s an attitude, one that seeps into your behavior and becomes your lifestyle. I never feel deprived, I never go without–eating the occasional danish helps, the surprise donut from hubby–but sometimes I find myself asking, “Can I do more?”

The answer is yes. With so many options for food choice in our culture, I’ve decided to narrow mine down to the anti-inflammatory category. It’s heart healthy, a cancer warrior, and some of these foodstuffs are even fat-fighters! (You know how much I love a multi-tasker!) Take turmeric, commonly found in Indian food.  Studies show it can actually help with weight loss.

“… curcumin (once again, a compound within turmeric found in extracts and the food itself) consumption directly decreased levels of insulin resistance and leptin resistance – two factors heavily linked to fat gain. In the conclusion of the research, study authors state:”By diminishing the sediment of fat, relaxing the lymphatic return, and refraining the apoptosis of beta cells, the curcumin might significantly decrease the level of insulin resistance and leptin resistance caused by the high fat diet.
 
Very cool! Uh, oh. One problem. “What if I’m not a fan of Indian food?” you might ask.
 
Chickpea SaladNo problem! There are lots of ways to eat your turmeric. One of my favorites is Chickpea Avocado Salad. Mixed greens, including spinach, sliced avocado, chickpeas, reduced-fat Feta cheese, extra-virgin oil, turmeric and ground pepper. Delicious! And you have 3 anti-inflammatory foods — avocado, olive oil and turmeric. And if you’re low in iron like many healthy vegetarians, you have two iron-rich foods included in the dish — spinach and chickpeas.
 
To vary this salad, I add a can of wild-caught salmon. Much like tuna in a can, salmon is tasty and healthy and not only anti-inflammatory, but high in omega-3! Omega-3’s are fabulous because they do it all. Heart healthy, joint healthy, fight wrinkles, skin ailments AND the omega-3s will improve your memory. Think flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and cold-water fish like salmon/tuna. Hint: when eating iron-rich foods, increase your absorption by taking vitamin C at the same time. Me? I pop a chewable vitamin C tablet in my mouth before I eat my salad. 🙂
 
Wow. I love food. Productive food, at that. How about you?