the heart needs joy

Did you know that February is known as American Heart Month? The purpose of observing Heart Month is to motivate Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles that will help prevent and lower their risk of developing heart disease. According to the CDC more than 650,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the #1 cause of death in the United States. I have good news for you, there are a number of things you can do starting TODAY that will help keep your heart healthy, happy, and thriving


“Given the right conditions, the body heals itself”

-Michael Greger, How Not To Die


The number one thing you can do for you heart is to eat nourishing foods. “Just as we could avoid sugary foods that rot our teeth, we can avoid the trans-fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol-laden foods that clog up our arteries” (Greger). A heart healthy diet consists of mostly plants and whole foods, meaning they are unprocessed and in their natural state. 


Here are some examples of foods you can be eating to protect your heart:


Fiber rich foods- oats, beans, flaxseeds


Healthy fats/omega-3 fatty acids- avocado, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, walnuts


Red/Blue/Purple foods- berries, purple grapes, red wine (in moderation), which are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties


Pungent herbs- garlic, onion, turmeric


Comforting "treats"- Green tea, cacao, dark chocolate, rooibos tea, hibiscus tea


Low sodium foods- aim to have only 1 tsp of added salt daily (I know, this is REALLY hard)


Bitters- lettuce, radicchio, chicory, dandelion, endives, artichokes, and herbal bitters


A fun fact I also want to include is that brazil nuts are known to significantly lower LDL, or “bad cholesterol” levels. Just four brazil nuts once a month can make a huge impact on your heart health! If you want to know more details about the study that lead to his discovery, go to and search “brazil nuts”. Side note, brazil nuts are also a great source of selenium which is an essential mineral only obtained through our diet. Selenium is good at helping lower your risk of heart disease, protecting your cognitive function, supporting your thyroid, and boosting your immune system! So, long story long, go to the store and buy some brazil nuts!


What else can you do to protect your heart?



When you exercise, not only are you working specifically targeted skeletal muscles, but you are also working your involuntary muscles, like your cardiac muscle. Exercise strengthens the heart and helps burn through excess sugar in the bloodstream, which keeps your blood pressure steady, and your cholesterol in a healthy range. You should aim to get your heart rate up with some sort of cardio every day whether it be a brisk walk, running, playing a sport, etc.


Mind/Body Balance

Besides eating unhealthy and fattening foods, the worst thing we can do for our heart is to hold on to stress. Try and take a few minutes a day to care for your mind, body, and soul by either meditating (whatever that means to you), practicing mindful breathing, doing a low impact workout like yoga or pilates, or whatever may bring you peace and contentment!



And finally, the heart needs joy! “It is known that having a really good laugh significantly increases the blood supply to your heart by dilating the coronary arteries” (Deeply Holistic). This means that our blood is able to flow more efficiently. Surround yourself with people, hobbies, experiences, or anything that brings you joy! With all the negativity in our world right now, it is important to do what we can to protect our hearts, both figuratively and literally. 


 If you haven't yet, I would love if you'd follow me on Instagram and "like" my page on Facebook, both at @popnourish, I post a lot of good content on those platforms. Stay happy and healthy!! 




**The information that helped me write this post came from the books; How Not To Die, Deeply Holistic, and Body into Balance**

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