Celebrate Valentine’s Day by celebrating your heart. Wise Woman herbalist Susun Weed gives us a few simple, easy ways to nourish and tonify that vitally important little organ.
Here are ten easy steps to better heart health:
1. Stop smoking. Nourish yourself with a handful of sunflower seeds and a cup of nettle or oat straw infusion daily for 4 to 6 weeks before quitting. Sunflower seeds reduce the body’s craving for nicotine by filling the nicotine receptor sites. The infusions strengthen blood vessels and nerves and cushions the impact of withdrawal.
2. Touch and be touched. Many scientific studies have shown that people who were touched lovingly every day had significantly fewer heart problems than the control group.
3. Eat seaweeds. They have been shown to stabilize blood pressure, regulate levels of triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterols, they dissolve fatty build-ups in the blood vessels, they can restore cardiac efficiency and prolong the life of the heart muscle, and they encourage a steady heart beat.
4. Eat foods rich in beta-carotenes: they can cut your risk of a stroke by 40 percent. Foods rich in beta-carotenes include carrots, cabbage, winter squash, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, apricots, and seaweed. (We try to include a few beta-carotene rich recipes in every issue of Eat Well Naturally and Green Cuisine.)
5. Eat garlic. Study after study has confirmed garlic’s abilities to lower blood pressure, reduce phospholipids and cholesterol, strengthen heart action, increase immune response, reduce platelet clumping and clotting (thus reducing strokes) and stabilize blood sugar levels. Eat garlic raw or lightly cooked, several cloves a day.
6. Eat foods rich in essential fatty acids. Fresh pressed oils of wheat germ or flax seed are especially nourishing.
7. Drink lemon balm tea. It is so strengthening to the heart that there’s an old saying about it: “Those who drink lemon balm tea daily will live forever!” You can also steep a handful of fresh leaves in a glass of white wine for an hour or so and drink it with dinner. Or make lemon balm vinegar to use on your salads.
8. Move! Go for a walk, jump rope, swim, or do leg lifts and arm raises from your bed or wheelchair: however you can do it, do it! Regular exercise is key.
9. Avoid restrictive diets. Frequent dieting, fasting, binging and purging imbalance your electrolyte levels, causing weakening of the heart muscle and damage to the heart.
10. Eat as much as you want of: whole grains, vegetables, beans, greens, fruits, fish, seeds, and yogurt. Go easy on: nuts, cheese, and milk.