The health of our arteries is so important for longevity. More people in the U.S. die from inflamed arteries (which can lead to heart attack and stroke) than from cancer or any other disease. Heart disease affects people of all ethnicities, killing one in four Americans every year. Many people know the benefits of exercise for a heart-healthy lifestyle. And many already avoid excessive salt, trans-fats, and animal fats in their diets order to keep bad cholesterol down, inflammation to a minimum, and blood pressure low. But research also shows that eating foods that contain anti-inflammatory compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, gingerol, oleuropein, fiber, allicin, and potassium—all FoodTrients—as well as calcium, can also make a huge difference. Let’s look at each of these compounds.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, whole grains, and nuts can lower triglycerides, regulate heart rhythm, and help blood to circulate properly. So eating foods containing this FoodTrient can reduce your risk for stroke and dementia. Curcumin is the most powerful anti-inflammatory compound on the planet. It works as well as prescription drugs to reduce your risk of heart disease. This FoodTrient is found in the bright yellow spice turmeric, which is the base for many curry powders.
Gingerol, a FoodTrient in the spice ginger, is another strong anti-inflammatory. A FoodTrient called oleuropein or oleocanthal (aka oleic acid) occurs naturally in olive oil and avocados. Eating it has been shown to reduce your risk of heart attack. The FoodTrient fiber reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to get enough fiber daily.
Allicin, the FoodTrient in fresh garlic, thins the blood and lowers cholesterol. For these reasons, eating garlic can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Potassium and calcium work together to regulate blood pressure and ensure proper blood clotting, thereby reducing your risk of stroke. Potassium occurs in moringa leaves, potatoes, spinach, lima beans, acorn squash, and apricots. Calcium can be found in tofu, sardines, salmon, dried beans, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.
I’ve just developed a heart-healthy curry recipe that will be published in my new cookbook next year. You’re getting a sneak preview of it here. It contains curry powder with curcumin in it, ginger for the gingerol, fiber from the vegetables, and garlic for its allicin. The creamy texture comes from plant-based coconut milk, which is an anti-inflammatory as opposed to pro-inflammatory milk or cream. You can substitute tofu or soybeans for the chicken if you’re avoiding animal products altogether. I also add moringa leaves for their potassium content. If you can’t find fresh leaves, you can use 2 teaspoons of dried moringa powder, which you can purchase online at www.moringaforlife.com.
CHICKEN CURRY WITH MORINGA
2 tsp. fresh ginger strips
¼ cup onion strips
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tsp. chopped or crushed garlic
½ lb. chicken strips
2–3 tsp. yellow curry powder
2 tsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
1–2 tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
1 cup heavy coconut milk, divided in half
1½ cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup water, if needed
¼ cup red pepper strips
1 cup fresh moringa leaves (or 2 tsp. dried moringa powder)
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Sauté the ginger and onion in the coconut oil in a heavy enamel-coated pot for 3–4 minutes.
2. Add the chicken strips and cook another 5 minutes.
3. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Then add the fish sauce, salt, and pepper.
4. Add half of the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
5. Add the potatoes and carrots and boil for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are soft and cooked through. Stir frequently. Add ½ cup water if the curry gets too thick.
6. Add red peppers and remaining coconut milk. Boil for 5 minutes more.
7. Remove from heat and add the moringa leaves and cayenne pepper.