February is all about the heart. There’s Valentine’s Day – a day dedicated to outwardly expressing our love with gifts, flowers and special words – and February is Heart Health Month, too. A time when the American Heart Association wants us all to remember to take care of our hearts.
In this country, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds. Scary, right? While we can’t change things like age and family history, we can decide to make healthy choices now and lower our risk of disease. That starts with visiting your doctor so you have a clear understanding of your risk factors, scheduling regular check-ups, adding doctor-approved exercise to your daily routine, and eating healthier.
You probably think red when it comes to heart health, but when it comes to eating for your heart, it’s purple foods like Wild Blueberries, Concord Grapes, purple cabbage and carrots that you should add to your plate.
Why Purple foods?
Purple foods contain anthocyanins, a naturally occurring plant compound that gives them their deep rich hue and powerful antioxidant capacity. The role of anthocyanins in the prevention of disease has been linked to their antioxidant properties. Although scientists still aren’t sure how or why anthocyanins prevent disease, two decades of research (animal and human studies) have suggested that anthocyanins play an important role in helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cognitive decline, and cancer.
Their power may be because plants that produce anthocyanins do so as a protective mechanism against environmental stressors, such as ultraviolet light, cold temperatures, and drought. This production of anthocyanins in roots, stems, and especially leaf tissues is believed to provide resistance against these environmental hazards. Take the Wild Blueberry as an example.
Wild Blueberries emerged on the desolate plain, aptly called The Barrens of Maine, Eastern Canada, and Quebec, following the retreat of the glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. Wild Blueberries survive in thin, acidic, glacial soils and thrive in cold, harsh climates. A wild plant like Wild Blueberries can’t just get up and walk away when confronted with an environmental stressor. Instead, it has evolved over thousands of years to combat stress by producing powerful phytochemicals to protect itself. These are the same natural plant compounds that protect us from inflammation and chronic disease when we eat wild foods. As a result, Wild Blueberries have twice the antioxidant capacity of regular blueberries.
Purple Power Recipe
So, if you’re ready to embrace the power of purple. Here’s a delicious recipe featuring frozen Wild Blueberries and one other purple power ingredient.
Wild Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie
This smoothie includes both frozen Wild Blueberries and purple cauliflower to add even more antioxidants to your diet, and really bring out the vibrant purple color of the smoothie.