Did you know that having a dog in your life will help your heart? Studies have shown that simply the act of petting your dog can make you feel less stressed. The calming effect of the dog helps the owner to have less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress. (their heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal more quickly, dampening the effects of stress on the body.

“Owning a dog increases the sense of well-being in general, decreases loneliness and decreases rates of depression,” said the senior author, Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. There is a great resource about the health benefits of owning a dog is a report done from Harvard Medical School called “Get Healthy, Get a Dog.” This Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School delves into the many ways that dogs can improve the health of their human partners – and vice versa.

Did you know that tea, especially green tea, is a source of flavonoids that could reduce oxidative stress, relieve inflammation, increase the efficiency of heart muscle cells and improve the function of the blood vessels?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, the authors write, and “tea consumption could reduce the risks for both cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality as well as all-cause mortality.”

Next time you cruise through Starbucks, try some green tea! The green tea I choose is an antioxidant-rich blend of green, white and red teas. I love to use it as a pick-me-up in the afternoons.

Want to eat heart-healthy foods? Just swapping out some of these each day can make a big difference for your cardiovascular health:

  1. Fish that is rich in omega-3’s which include salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout. I prefer wild-caught to farm raised.
  2. Grab that handful of nuts such as almonds or walnuts
  3. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries are filled with soluble fiber and heart-healthy phytonutrients.
  4. Want more omega-3 fatty acids? Try flaxseeds, ground or milled form or how about Chia seeds filled with fiber and protein as well.
  5. Oats, one of our favorites ~ have you tried roasting them and putting them atop salads, yogurt or trail mix?
  6. How does a warm lentil soup sound on a cold, wintery day? Or veggie chili? Legumes such as lentils, garbanzo, pinto, kidney or black beans are all high in fiber, B-vitamins, and minerals.
  7. Do you drink red wine? Just a 4-ounce glass can actually help improve good (HDL) cholesterol levels. We do not drink alcohol but get the same and more benefits from this product that contains resveratrol and polyphenols based on the muscadine grape.
  8. Think color when you eat such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes and acorn squash all loaded with carotenoids, fiber and vitamins to help our hearts.
  9. Do not forget green! Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard/mustard greens, bok choy (delicious in stir-fry), broccoli and asparagus all filled with vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber.
  10. Got a sweet tooth? Try fruits such as oranges, cantaloupes and papaya, rich in beta-caratene, potassium, magnesium and fiber.
  11. Who does not love chocolate? And the higher percentage of cocoa the better

Ready to start swapping out some of those foods you know are not helping your heart? I have a great resource as well for some healthy tips and it is free. Just go here and sign up and watch health and wellness experts and scientists share the straight facts on important wellness topics that can change the quality of your family’s health and the health of our planet.

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