A Pear of Hearts

fruits and veggies

Not only is today Valentine’s Day, but February is American Heart Month. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, despite being preventable (CDC). Today, some of my culinary nutrition students presented current research on cardiovascular disease prevention with a focus on increasing antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, are naturally occurring nutrients in plant foods that prevent damage to the body’s cells; this damage, called oxidation, is a primary cause of most chronic illnesses, including heart disease.

To protect your heart and the hearts of those you love, the recipe for success is simple: Eat more fruits and vegetables! Brightly colored fruits and vegetables offer the strongest oxidation fighters, and also contain heart-healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Want to make your valentine’s day and still indulge? Pair dark chocolate (flavonoids) and red wine (polyphenols) with sliced pears and strawberries for a sinful dose of antioxidants and love. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Post-Op Pears

I just underwent major surgery and I feel lousy; my body aches, I’m lightheaded, and I have no appetite! My post-op diet of liquids just progressed to a soft diet as part of the effort to give my gastrointestinal tract rest until it fully wakes up from the anesthesia. Although I don’t feel like eating, smooth, cool foods are very soothing in my parched mouth and throat. To hasten my recovery, I know it’s important for me to focus on protein for structural repair and carbohydrates for much needed energy to recover. Fortunately, the hospital where I am staying has many protein, fruit and vegetable options to pique my tired taste buds.

The most comforting food I have had during my hospital recovery was sliced pears. I asked specifically for these because they’re a good source of energy and an excellent source of fiber – another important nutrient following surgery. The ripe pears felt so smooth, cool, and juicy going down my ragged throat; and although I hope I will be discharged tomorrow, I have asked to have pears at every meal because they are so soothing!