We continue to concentrate on your heart in honor of Valentine's Day this week. In this Avera Medical Minute, we zero in on the foods that are full of compounds to lower your blood pressure.
If you are thinking about getting your sweetie something sweet for Valentine's Day, consider dark chocolate. The little Dove Nugget is the perfect size for your heart and your waste line. According to Registered Dietician Joanne Shearer, the Director of Food Nutrition services at the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota, it only has 30 calories but more importantly 30 mg of flavonols.
Joanne Shearer says, "Flavonols are an antioxidant compound. It's technically not a vitamin and it's not a mineral but it's in that big category of vitanutrients."
And those compounds are good at protecting against chronic diseases, especially cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The registered dietician says, "Flavonoids help the blood vessels to relax. The compounds have that benefit. It also protects the cholesterol from becoming oxidized. It's not necessarily dangerous to you until it's oxidized. Once it's oxidized then it sticks to your arteries."
Shearer says the best sources of flavonoids are green and black tea and berries, particularly blueberries and blackberries, but the benefits are better off the vine than in the bottle. In other words, you retain more of the flavonoids if you eat food in their natural state (eat the berries as is, rather than in a juice form).
So even though a bottle of the green tea is a better choice than a can of pop, you would be better off brewing it. You get a 100 more mg of flavonoids per serving. Your heart and those who love you will thank you.
Those fruits and vegetables in the burgundy family are also good for your heart like red onions, red grapes, cherries and red cabbage.
If you'd like to learn more about flavonoids, Joanne and another dietitian from the Avera Heart Hospital will be performing a healthy and entertaining dinner theater "Prairie Meets Mediterranean", sponsored by Avera St. Lukes in Aberdeen on February 21st at the Ramkota Hotel. Tickets are available at Dakotah Bank in downtown Aberdeen for $20.