Friday, 29 March 2013

Here's to Your Heart

The holiest of holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, From My Arm-Chair, 1879

In memory of our sweet old big black cat, Essa, who died this morning due to heart complications (his was too big, which is no surprise; He loved everyone and everyone loved him). When he was well, Essa loved to eat, and he loved to play. I thought I would dedicated a little post to heart health on this Good Friday.

Food for the Heart

There are numerous articles on heart health, and research is constantly being updated.In an article published in Canadian Living Magazine, written by Sarah Shroer, is a simple list of the best foods for heart health that we should be including in our every day diet. A lot of these foods were also mentioned by the medical director for our Barrie Soccer Club. They include:

Fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and trout, which have a lot of those beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. (NB: Dr. Steve Rallis, our Barrie Soccer Club's medical director, in his nutrition guidelines for young athletes, notes animal protein, including fish, are a great super-nutrient protein source and that omega-3 fats help reduce inflammation. Be careful of fish that can be laden with mercury or PCBs, like farm-raised salmon, shell-fish, tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, sea bass, Atlantic halibut and gulf coast oysters.)

Nuts - Almonds, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts. (Avoid salted, roasted nuts, says Dr. Rallis. Once a fat is heated, it changes its chemistry and becomes more harmful than good.)

Colourful veggies & fruits - broccoli, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, beans, legumes, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, to name a few.

Dr. Rallis notes there are those fruits and veggies, known as "The Dirty Dozen that "consistently carry higher levels of tested pesticides" and because of that, should be purchased organic as much as possible.The list is updated every year in his nutrition guidelines for young athletes.

The Dirty Dozen this year are: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes, grapes.

Fitness for the Heart

An article at called Give Your Heart a Workout by Ginny Graves suggests a workout week that starts with cardio intervals (where you alternate between high and moderate intensity activity) on the first day, strength training and stretching on day two, another day of cardio intervals, stretching on day four, strength training and stretching again on day five, cardio intervals on day six and rest on day seven. (In general the article recommends the interval training lasts between 25 and 30 minutes, and is performed three times per week.)

Personally  I really enjoy strength training in-between runs or spin classes. If you are consistent, it doesn't take long for those lean, strong muscles to develop. And as you get older and your metabolism slows down, strength training is a great way to rev it up so you can burn those calories more efficiently throughout the day. Stretching is something I don't do enough of, but whenever I do it, it feels fantastic.

Anyway, enjoy your Good Friday, eat well, and take care of your heart.

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