07 Feb Breakfast for a Healthy Heart
It’s always hard to believe when February hits that we are already one month into the new year! I’ve focused on habits in my past two posts (On Habits & Being “Better Than Before” and Is There A Right Way To Meditate?) and one of my favourite habits is my consistent morning routine, including my breakfast. I believe strongly in the importance of eating breakfast and ensuring it is a nutritious meal that gives you the energy you need to start your day off on the right foot. Since February is Heart Month, I decided it would be a great time to share with you one of my favourite breakfast options that’s quick, easy, delicious, and full of nutrients for a healthy heart, body, and mind: Overnight Oats!
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is a leading cause of death in North America. Early detection and prevention are the key aspects to reducing your risk and living a long and healthy life. Both medical and naturopathic doctors are consistently checking your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and a variety of other markers of heart health to watch for early signs of heart disease. February is the perfect time for us to talk about simple things we can do on a daily basis to prevent disease and keep our hearts healthy!
Dr Casey’s Overnight Oats Recipe
- ½ cup rolled oats (certified gluten free, if necessary)
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)
- 2 tbsp almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- ¼ cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
- ¼ cup plain unsweetened coconut yogurt or greek yogurt
- In a 500ml mason jar, combine ingredients (oats, chia seeds, nut butter, milk) and stir to combine.
- Press down to flatten the top and ensure all the oats are covered with milk.
- Cover with the mason jar lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, add toppings. This can either be enjoyed at home or it can easily be transported and enjoyed at work, school, etc.
- Happy Breakfast! 🙂
Nutrients for a Healthy Heart
Blueberries and other berries. Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants reduce pro-oxidants in the body, which oxidize LDL cholesterol in the artery walls and lead to worsening of atherosclerosis (plaques in the walls of the arteries affecting blood flow). Atherosclerosis is a major cause of coronary artery events.
Oats. Beta-glucan is a type of dietary fibre that is found in oats. Eating more fibre in general is an important way to improve overall health but beta-glucan specifically has been shown to have a beneficial effect of lowering cholesterol in the body. High cholesterol is correlated with increased cardiovascular disease risk.
Almonds. This type of fat is found in olive oil, avocadoes, and most nuts and seeds. The Mediterranean diet is commonly considered the ideal diet for preventing cardiovascular disease and one of the components of this diet is that it is high in monounsaturated fats.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Flax and chia seed. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to our overall health but also play a role in reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and your risk of heart disease. Sources of omega 3 include flax seeds, chia seeds, and fish. Learn more about them in my past blog post about omega 3 fatty acids, October Omegas.
What do we avoid by eating this heart healthy breakfast?
Trans fats occur with the process of hydrogenation and are found in many processed foods. Eating foods rich in this type of fat can increase cholesterol in the body and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Traditional breakfast foods are very high in refined sugar (i.e. sugary cereal with milk or pancakes and syrup) and people with diets high in sugar have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Aiming for a breakfast high in protein and fat, while being low in sugar is a great way to cut back your daily sugar intake!