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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Feeding Our Loving Heart

by Brenda Cobb

February, the month of love and Valentine’s Day, is a wonderful time to think more about our hearts and taking good care of them. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of deaths worldwide, accounting for over 17.5 million mortalities annually.

A 12-year study was conducted on diet and heart disease by Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., that included 24 patients with severe coronary artery disease. All individuals were put on a whole foods, plant-based diet with less than 10 percent of their total calories from fat. Six patients were released from the study within the first 18 months for being non-compliant. These six patients had a total of 13 new cardiac events after 12 years. Seventeen of the remaining 18 patients experienced no cardiac events after 12 years. For the eight years preceding the start of the study, these same 18 patients had a total of 49 cardiac events. Follow-up tests at the five-year mark confirmed complete reversal of coronary artery disease in 11 of the 18 patients and partial reversal in the rest.

The purpose of eating is to nourish and fuel the body. It’s like filling up a car with gas. Whatever grade of fuel we fill up with will get you from point A to point B, but if we put the wrong grade of fuel in, it could cause more problems over time and a we could spend a lot of money trying to get those problems fixed. This is also true for the human body. If we eat unhealthy foods, sooner or later it will catch up with us and we could experience health challenges and chronic diseases.

The type of fuel that is best for the human body includes simple, whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. These are the colorful, life-giving, disease-fighting foods our body needs most. Eat unlimited amounts of raw vegetables, including dark leafy greens, red, yellow and orange peppers, celery, cucumbers, broccoli and onions. These are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients, potassium, vitamins A, C and E, folic acid and fiber, and they are low in fat and calories.

Include a variety of fresh whole fruits like blueberries, raspberries, apples and pears, which are full of vitamins and minerals and are great hydrators because they contain a high percentage of water. Beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils are high-fiber foods with excellent sources of protein, calcium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, potassium and zinc. These foods are a good substitute for meat and animal products.

Whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa and millet are rich in B vitamins, iron, vitamin E and magnesium. They are high in fiber and low in saturated fat and a good source of antioxidants like selenium. Nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, as well as vitamin E, zinc and selenium. They are rich in antioxidants, an excellent protein source, high in fiber, calories and fat.

There are so many wonderful, plant-based recipes to keep our diet interesting and delicious. Here is one to support a loving, healthy heart.

Heart Healthy Salad

2 cups kale 2 cups romaine lettuce 1⁄2 cup red pepper 1⁄4 cup onion 1⁄2 cup celery 1⁄2 cup sunflower seeds

Soak the sunflower seeds in 2 cups of filtered alkaline water for 4 hours, drain and pat dry. Chop the kale, romaine lettuce, red pepper, celery and onion. Toss with the dressing.

Raspberry Pepper Dressing

1 tsp chia seeds 1⁄2 cup red pepper 1 clove garlic 1⁄2 cup raspberries 1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice 1 apple 1⁄4 cup flax seed oil 1⁄2 tsp Himalayan salt

Put the raspberries, red pepper, garlic, apple, lemon juice, flax seed oil, chia seeds and salt in the VitaMix and blend until creamy. Toss with the salad greens and enjoy.

Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876 or visit

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