As a nurse, you undoubtedly have seen firsthand that the health of our arteries is so important for longevity. More people in the U.S. die from inflamed arteries (which can lead to heart attack and stroke) than from cancer or any other disease, and heart disease kills one in four Americans every year.
We know that YOU know the benefits of exercise for a heart-healthy lifestyle, and may already avoid excessive salt, trans-fats, and animal fats in order to keep your own bad cholesterol down, inflammation to a minimum and blood pressure low. And as a nurse, it’s so important that you take care of yourself first so you can keep taking care of your patients!
Research shows that eating foods that contain anti-inflammatory compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and potassium—all what I call “FoodTrients”—can make a huge difference in your heart health. How?
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, whole grains and nuts can lower triglycerides, regulate heart rhythm and help blood to circulate properly. Chowing down on some nuts during your breaks can help reduce your risk for stroke and dementia.
- Curcumin is the most powerful anti-inflammatory compound on the planet. It’s found in the bright yellow spice turmeric, which is the base for many curry powders. Make yourself a batch of the chicken curry below…your coworkers will be supremely jealous as they trudge off to the hospital cafeteria at lunch!
- Gingerol, a FoodTrient in the spice ginger, is another strong anti-inflammatory.
- Oleuropein or oleocanthal (aka oleic acid) occurs naturally in olive oil and avocados. Eating it has been shown to reduce your risk of heart attack.
- You probably already know that fiber reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to get enough fiber daily…try throwing an apple in your bag before heading out the door to munch during a quick break.
- Allicin, the FoodTrient in fresh garlic, thins the blood and lowers cholesterol. For these reasons, eating garlic can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. (Just make sure to pop a mint before heading back in to your patients’ rooms!)
- Potassium and calcium work together to regulate blood pressure and ensure proper blood clotting, thereby reducing your risk of stroke. Potassium occurs in moringa leaves, potatoes, spinach, lima beans, acorn squash and apricots. Calcium can be found in tofu, sardines, salmon, dried beans, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables.
Want even more heart-healthy goodness? I’ve just developed a curry recipe that will be published in my new cookbook next year…see the sneak peek below!
CHICKEN CURRY WITH MORINGA
2 tsp. fresh ginger strips
¼ cup onion strips
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tsp. chopped or crushed garlic
½ lb. chicken strips (you can substitute tofu or soybeans for the chicken if you’re avoiding animal products altogether)
2–3 tsp. yellow curry powder
2 tsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
1–2 tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
1 cup heavy coconut milk, divided in half
1½ cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup water, if needed
¼ cup red pepper strips
1 cup fresh moringa leaves (or 2 tsp. dried moringa powder)
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sauté the ginger and onion in the coconut oil in a heavy enamel-coated pot for 3–4 minutes.
- Add the chicken strips and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Then add the fish sauce, salt, and pepper.
- Add half of the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
- Add the potatoes and carrots and boil for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are soft and cooked through. Stir frequently. Add ½ cup water if the curry gets too thick.
- Add red peppers and remaining coconut milk. Boil for 5 minutes more.
- Remove from heat and add the moringa leaves and cayenne pepper.
Nurses, what do you do to keep your hearts healthy? What steps do you encourage your patients to take?