Less than one year ago, my husband suffered a heart attack. To say it was a shock is a serious understatement. We were on vacation when it happened, prepared for a week of fun and sun. Instead, we spent much of that time in an intensive care unit.
I couldn’t stay with him after visiting hours, so I went back to our room and had plenty of time to think. At first glance, my husband didn’t appear to have the obvious risk factors for a heart attack. He wasn’t overweight; he didn’t smoke; and his diet wasn’t what most would consider bad. He did have a lot stress because of his job and he didn’t have a daily exercise routine. I suspect that family heredity played a role, as well as undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Excellent care literally gave him a second chance. Now, five months later, he says the heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to him. It was a wake-up call; one that he has heeded. He’s changed his diet to include heart-healthy foods and he’s started exercising daily, losing more than 20 pounds over the last five months.
Sadly, nearly 600,000 people a year in the United States don’t get a second chance. Heart attacks remain the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since February is American Heart Month, I think it’s worth reviewing a list of some of the top heart-healthy foods that you can include in your diet. I gathered this list — which is definitely not exhaustive — from a wide variety of sources, including information provided to us by my husband’s heart specialists. The list is not in any particular order:
- Whole Grains
- Dark Chocolate
- Popcorn (plain)
- Green Tea
- Red Wine/Alcohol in Moderation
- Red Bell Peppers
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Flax Seed
- Soy Milk
- Spices Such as Turmeric, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, and Thyme
- Chia Seeds
- Brussel Sprouts
- Sweet Potatoes
Clearly, this is a pretty big list. But did you notice what’s not on there? Processed foods! In my next post, I’ll share some of the top culprits that our heart doctors told us to avoid.