This post was sponsored by Boston Scientific as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
As you know, my father passed away suddenly of heart disease when I was not yet four-years-old, and I have spent my life choosing different ways to live, and knowing how and when to ask for help or extra testing, should it be needed. Last summer, my father-in-law had a septuple bypass surgery. I remember that being one of the scarier experiences of my life – visiting him in the hospital and waiting for medical info – but he has recovered nicely and just spent three weeks in Spain!
Coronary artery (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, and it occurs when blood vessels of the heart become narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart.[i] And it’s the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. With CAD, people may experience pain, shortness of breath or fatigue, or people may experience nothing at all. They also may be at risk for a heart attack with CAD.[ii] I learned from the Cooking Cardiologist video (below) that the symptoms of CAD can be powerful, or none at all. I also learned that CAD can be both preventable and treatable.
There are various risk factors that can increase your risk for CAD. These include older age, being male, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and high stress.
People can take steps to prevent CAD, but the primary goal is to clear arteries that have become “clogged” in order to restore blood flow to the heart. And people can manage CAD with a mixture of lifestyle changes and treatment options, with medications often being chosen as a first line of treatment.[iii] Surgery may be needed in some cases, but other options include percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which is a minimally invasive procedure used to manage CAD.
Regardless of your health, we should all enjoy our food and lifestyle, while also being mindful of our wellness. You can make heart-healthy ingredient swaps, and then make an already popular dish better for your heart:
I love that he makes a flourless chocolate torte in this video! (spoiler) Cassidy makes a flourless chocolate torte every Passover. Instead of flour, he uses beans! And instead of butter, he uses avocado. I won’t tell you the rest, because you should watch the video, but I love the result. I realized I could make my own ingredient swaps to make better meals and snacks. Since you know I think about heart disease, given my family history, I take steps to be physically active (one of the reasons we got another dog!) and to eat heart-healthy meals and snacks. I make these Very Berry Protein Smoothies.
Very Berry Heart Healthy Protein Smoothie
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 ripe banana
1 cup of fresh blueberries
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp plant-based vanilla bean protein powder
1 single serving container of coconut berry yogurt
Water, apple juice or almond milk to thin it out
Coconut-based vegan whipped topping
Add all ingredients together in a blender. Mix at highest speed for thirty seconds. Check the consistency of the smoothie. If it’s too thick, add more water, apple juice or almond milk and blend 60 more seconds until thoroughly blended. Texture should be thick but thin enough to drink through a straw. Serve cold and add vegan whipped cream and fresh strawberry for extra sweetness.
See? Delicious. In your daily life, try plant-based recipes that use plant proteins, rather than milk. And you can replace cow’s milk with soy, almond, rice, or oat milk, among others, and replace refined grains with whole grains. If you want more flavor in your meals, you can load up on fresh herbs and spices instead of salt. And this is something I do with my coffee so much, that I can’t put sugar in it anymore! When I want a sweetener, I use a natural sugar substitute – like maple syrup, honey, or stevia.[iii] And I loved the video’s tips about using black beans. I didn’t know that one, although I already loved avocado with chocolate. HeartHealthyBeats.com has wonderful heart-healthy food swaps to check out.
An important note, beyond proper diet and lifestyle changes, is that advanced percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and other medical interventions tools make it easier to restore blood flow for patients with certain types of complicated coronary artery blockages.
Since some heart-healthy swaps and recipes may not be right for everyone, talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet. And you should follow your doctor’s guidelines for dietary restrictions for heart disease. If you want to learn more about CAD and healthy cooking options, visit HeartHealthyBeats.com – a resource developed by Boston Scientific.
[i] Coronary Artery Disease. MedlinePlus. NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/coronaryarterydisease.html. Accessed March 2018.
[ii] What Is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)? Boston Scientific. Available at: www.ispciforme.com. Accessed March 2018.
[iii] How is CAD Treated? Boston Scientific. Available at: www.ispciforme.com. Accessed March 2018.