In the 7 Systems of Health, the color green is associated with the LOVE System of Health and, therefore, primarily the heart and lungs, which are part of your circulatory or cardiovascular system. When healthy, your cardiovascular system functions to circulate blood, nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and hormones between cells in your body where they are needed to carry out a wide variety of biochemical functions.
Cardiovascular disease includes a number of problems and can be related to hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis; heart attack, when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot; heart failure, when your heart is not pumping as well as it should; arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm; and heart valve problems, when heart valves do not open as much as they should to allow adequate blood flow, known as stenosis, and when the heart valves do not close properly and blood leaks through, known as regurgitation.
Green plant foods contain vitamin K, folate, a variety of antioxidant nutrients, and fiber, all of which have the ability to nourish and benefit your cardiovascular system.
Did you know?
- Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and can prevent excess bleeding if you have an injury or accident, and it also may inhibit hardening of your arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
- Folate plays an important role in protecting your heart because it can help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that when elevated can damage blood vessels. Folate deficiency, and elevated levels of homocysteine, also can indicate an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Antioxidant nutrients can help combat oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
- Dietary fiber can help lower total and LDL cholesterol and, therefore, may have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health.
- Eating leafy green and cruciferous vegetables may reduce the incidence of several types of cardiovascular disease.
- Evidence from scientific studies is convincing that increasing your intake of vegetables and fruit can reduce your risk for hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Leafy greens that help to nourish your cardiovascular and LOVE system of health include:
Chard (rainbow, red)
- Green leafy vegetables, like Swiss chard, contain antioxidant phenolic compounds, which may positively effect cardiometabolic risk factors.
- Flavonoid antioxidants can be found in chard, in particular one called vitexin, which may exert cardioprotective effects.
- The stalks of chard can be found in a rainbow of colors, even though most chard leaves are a rich shade of green. There is a similarity between Swiss chard and beet greens, in that both belong to the same food family, genus, and species; however, chard does not form a root bulb like beets do.
- Kale is a cruciferous vegetable and a rich source of health-promoting nutrients including carotenoids, glucosinolates, and phenolic compounds, all of which can provide antioxidant activity.
- Kale contains vitamin K, an important nutrient that helps support your cardiovascular system.
- Kale is a good source of dietary fiber, and dietary fiber can lower your cholesterol levels because it can bind with bile acids. Steamed kale may be more effective for obtaining these results.
- There are three types of kale you may find in your local supermarket including that with a flatter, wider leaf; darker kale; and a more tightly formed, curly leaf kale. All forms of kale can provide you with health benefits.
Other leafy greens that support your heart and your love system include arugula, bok choy, collard greens, dandelion, mixed greens, mustard greens, romaine, spinach, sprouts of all kinds, and watercress.
Fruits that support your heart and your LOVE system include:
- Avocados are rich in a variety of essential nutrients and important phytochemicals, and including them in your diet can support cardiovascular health.
- Avocados are a good source of vitamin K, folate, dietary fiber, a variety of antioxidant nutrients, and heart-healthy fats, all of which can benefit your cardiovascular system.
- Dietary intake of avocados is associated with improved overall diet quality, better nutrient intake, and a lower risk for metabolic syndrome.
- Avocados that are ripe and ready to eat are slightly soft and should be free of dark, sunken spots or cracks. A firmer avocado can be ripened in a paper bag or fruit basket at room temperature within a few days, and they should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once they are ripe, they will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
- Kiwi contains high quantities of vitamin C, vitamin E, and polyphenols, all cardioprotective nutrients.
- Kiwi contains antioxidants that may protect DNA in human cells from oxidative stress.
- Kiwi contains dietary fiber, which can lower cholesterol levels and help protect your heart.
- Select your kiwi by holding it between your thumb and forefinger and applying gentle pressure. Those with the sweetest taste will gently yield to the pressure. Avoid purchasing kiwi that are very soft, wrinkled, or have damaged spots or bruises.
Legumes that contribute to the balance of your love system and support your cardiovascular system include:
- Green beans are a legume, supply protein to your diet, are a good source of fiber, and contain phenolic compounds.
- The phytochemicals in green beans and other legumes can protect you from coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
- The best way to purchase green beans is to buy them loose so you can sort through them, and select those that have a smooth feel and are a vibrant color of green. They should be free of bruises and brown spots and have a firm texture. Store your unwashed beans in a vegetable bag in the refrigerator, and whole beans can keep this way for up to seven days.
Green split peas
- Legumes like dried peas can add fiber, protein, and antioxidant polyphenols to your diet.
- Dried peas are a good source of potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and protect your heart.
- A wide variety of phytochemicals found in dried peas may be cardioprotective, lower your blood pressure, and lower levels of inflammation.
- Dried peas will keep for several months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place, and keeping them refrigerated will increase their shelf life even longer.
Another vegetable that supports your heart and your LOVE system is green northern beans.
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