Valentines Day, the day of hearts…ironically we didn’t get in our Heart-Healthy Cocoa-Blueberry Smoothie that morning because we spent the day in the ER and then ICU as my husband had just experienced a stroke that was traced to several previously undiagnosed heart conditions.
Very luckily for him he will make a full recovery from his stroke, and with the help of a pacemaker and some medicine his heart is now almost as good as new. Also luckily for him, his previous 40+ years as an athletic, organic vegetarian, and regular practitioner of yoga and daily meditation likely played a key role in his quick recovery and moderate side effects of this very rare type of stroke.
This smoothie may have actually helped things from turning out much worse. Learn more about this rare type of stroke and how to detect it below. Plus get our delicious Heart-Healthy Cocoa-Blueberry Smoothie recipe here…
What Makes These Smoothie Ingredients Heart Healthy?
Let’s take a quick look at the heart-healthy benefits of these ingredients and how they aid your cardio and vascular health. Then make this smoothie part of your morning routine, it’s a healthy-licious way to start your day!
Organic Coconut Water One study from India has shown that high amounts of electrolyte minerals (potassium, calcium and magnesium) found in coconut water may help maintain heart health. Coconut water has also been shown to lower blood pressure if drunk on a regular basis.
Organic Cocoa Powder Interesting research out of the UK has shown a correlation between cocoa consumption and decreased cardiovascular risk factors including lowered blood pressure, greater insulin resistance, decreased inflammation, improved cholesterol levels, increased blood vessel health, and better artery function. Organic Cocoa has been a daily staple in our house (even before my husband’s heart issues.)
Organic Blueberries have long been touted for their benefits to heart and vascular system, and a recent study from the University of Utah has shown that anthocyanins (the blue, red, and purple pigment found in fruits and vegetables) in blueberries can “protect against cardiovascular complications by acting on multiple targets in the vascular system.”
Bananas According to the FDA the high potassium and low sodium content of bananas may help protect your cardiovascular system from high blood pressure, plus like with coconut water, potassium also keeps electricity flowing through your body, which helps to keep your heart beating normally.
Almonds and Chia Seeds According to the Mayo Clinic, research has shown that eating nuts and seeds may reduce your risk of developing blood clots, and a diet that includes nuts and seeds may also improve the health of your arteries. Plus nuts and seeds are high in Omega-3s, a healthy form of long-chain fatty acids, that may prevent dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Heart-Healthy Cocoa-Blueberry Smoothie
This delicious smoothie is easy to whip up and gives you a great boost of antioxidants and protein to protect your heart and vascular system, and kick-start your day.
16oz organic coconut water
1 cup frozen organic blueberries
2 TBSP organic cocoa powder
2 TBSP chia seeds
2 TBSP almond butter
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Place all ingredients into your Vitmix (or other heavy-duty blender) in the order listed, and blend on high until smooth. Drink up and enjoy! Makes 2-3 servings.
How to Detect a Rare form of Stroke
Now that you’ve got your smoothie in hand, here’s some more info about that rare stroke my husband had, a Cerebellar Infarction. This type of stroke only effects 2-3% of all stroke patients is often misdiagnosed as the flu, since it has common flue-like symptoms including: dizziness, vertigo, vomiting, and clumsiness. If any of your friends or family start acting like a drunken sailor when you know they haven’t been drinking, get them to the ER ASAP, it could be a cerebellum infarction.
In our case my dad had experienced three strokes in the past year, so we were pretty familiar with the typical stroke signs. Yet even when I suspected my husband might have had a stroke and asked him to do all of the typical “stroke” tests, he passed with flying colors…he could raise his arms above his head just fine, still had his great smile, could talk and answer questions no problem, could stick his tongue out… so we didn’t realize it was a stroke for several hours. You can read more about our stroke experience and subsequent heart issues on our sailing blog here: Due West Adventures.
Please leave a comment below letting us know how you enjoyed your smoothie, or any other heart or stroke related comments you’d like to leave.