February is American Heart Month.
You may be surprised to learn that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. In the United States, cardiovascular disease kills around 1 woman every 80 seconds. That is a startling and sobering statistic. However, there is good news: 80% of heart-related events can be prevented with the proper knowledge and lifestyle modifications. There are 5 numbers all women (and men) should really take note of in order to take control of their cardiovascular health:
- TOTAL CHOLESTEROL: Your total blood cholesterol is a measure of the cholesterol components LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein, which is the triglyceride-carrying component of lipids.
- HDL CHOLESTEROL: Cholesterol present in the blood as high-density lipoprotein: a higher level typically associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, earning it the nickname of “good cholesterol”.
- BLOOD PRESSURE: The pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, often measured for diagnosis since it is closely related to the force and rate of the heartbeat and the diameter and elasticity of the arterial walls.
- BLOOD SUGAR: The concentration of glucose in the blood
- BODY MASS INDEX (BMI): Weight-to-height ratio, calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters and used as an indicator of either obesity or being underweight.
Standard goals for those without previous history of heart disease:
Total cholesterol: less than 200ml/dl
HDL: greater than 60ml/dl
Blood Pressure: between 120/80-140/90
One easy (and delicious!) way to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease is to incorporate green tea into your diet; specifically Matcha Green Tea. Components in Matcha have been shown to interfere with lipid digestion, including cholesterol and dietary fat. Matcha is a premium green tea powder from Japan. It’s used for drinking as a tea or can be used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes. Matcha is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and chlorophyll. The health benefits of Matcha greatly exceed those of other green teas because you consume the entire tea leaf, not just the brewed water. One cup of prepared matcha drink is the equivalent of 10 cups of regular green tea in regards to nutritional content and antioxidant level.
Health Benefits associated with Matcha:
- High in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
- Rich in vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, magnesium
- Packed with antioxidants, including powerful EGCG
- Boosts metabolism
- Calms the mind, relaxes the body
- Enhances mood and aids in concentration
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
Matcha is touted as a natural mood enhancer because it contains L-theanine, an amino acid know to relax the mind. Buddhist monks drank matcha to aid in their meditation since matcha’s amino acids, combined with caffeine, provide a calm, yet alert awareness over time. What mom couldn’t use a little Buddhist-like zen in her life…am I right?!
We recommend purchasing a high quality, organic Matcha powder. A little goes a long way, so it will last you awhile. Keep it sealed, in a dark/cool location (like the refrigerator) to minimize it’s oxidation. You can simply whisk the bright green powder with water for a full-bodied tea or mix in with a variety of recipes: smoothies, sauces, pastries and our favorite…..lattes!
Try this easy at-home version using your Vitamix (or any blender). Simply add all the ingredients and blend for around 45 seconds, until a nice foam develops on the top.
- 1 cup milk any kind, i used fat free
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp matcha
Blend on high for 45 seconds or until foam forms on top layer
Lightly dust additional sprinkling of Matcha over the top, for garnish
For a more protein-packed version, try adding a scoop of unflavored protein powder to the mix. (ex: collagen protein)
Cheers to good health for many more years together with all of your Valentines!