The Healthy Heart Coach's Recipe of the Week
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Easy Make Heart-Healthy Chili
This chili is one of my all-time favorite meals that is easy to make and loaded with delicious heart-healthy ingredients and nutrients.
I start with organic grass-fed beef, organic red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers, jalapeno and serrano peppers, black and kidney beans, garlic, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
One of the things I like most about making chili is it allows me to use a wide variety of different colored vegetables and this is important because different color vegetables provide us with different nutrients and thus different health benefits.
The red color of the bell pepper and tomatoes' primary benefit is the lycopene they contain. Lycopene is a red-colored phytonutrient that helps protect against heart disease and cancers of the prostate, breast, and skin. It is typically found in tomatoes and tomato-based products in addition to being in watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava. The one thing about this red phytonutrient to remember is that cooked tomato products result in the lycopene being more “available” to the body to be absorbed. Also, since it is fat-soluble like many of the other carotenoids, it requires fat together with cooking to optimize absorption into the body.
The green bell peppers and jalapenos provide our bodies with phytosterols or plant sterols. These are compounds that look like cholesterol, but they are not cholesterol. They block the absorption of cholesterol from food in the gut and reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
The orange bell peppers provide our bodies with alpha-carotene, beta-carotene beta-cryptoxanthin, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, and curcuminoids all of which help boost our immune systems while reducing our risk of heart disease as well as cancer.
The yellow bell peppers contain the compounds lutein, rutin, and zeaxanthin which are anti-inflammatory and help protect the heart, vasculature, brain, eyes, and skin.
The black and kidney beans are loaded with minerals and fiber and are a great source of low-glycemic carbohydrates (they won’t rapidly spike your blood sugar like white bread or pasta noodles). When using canned beans I always drain them in a colander and rinse them with water as metal cans are lined with a chemical called bisphenol, but rinsing them well once out the can helps remove this while also reducing excess sodium.
The final ingredient I use is organic, grass-fed beef. I never use conventionally raised, factory-farmed meat. Meat has gotten a bad rap over the past decades, but the fact is in God’s infinite wisdom were designed to eat meat, it’s the whole reason we have our K-9 teeth, to rip and tear flesh from the bone. Through thousands of years of human existence, our ancestors ate meat without developing heart disease until really the last 60 years.
The problem with meat is that we’ve changed the way we raise cattle over the past six decades. No longer are the majority of cattle raised on their natural diet of fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs, instead, through factory farming, they are fed highly inflammatory diets of corn, grain, soy and other things that increase their levels of the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Grass-fed beef is known to be one of the most nutrient-dense proteins on earth, it has a remarkably higher micronutrient profile compared to conventionally raised grain-fed beef because these cows are allowed to eat their natural diet and are not confined to.
Grass-fed beef contains much more of the healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, unlike factory-farmed which are much higher in omega-6 fats. It is also the richest source of a powerful fatty-acid called CLA- conjugated linoleic acid. CLA has many known health benefits, including in the regulation of fat by the body. CLA assists in the use of body fat as a source of energy and prevents a decrease in metabolic rate which is usually associated with a decrease in caloric consumption. CLA-plays a role in the prevention of heart disease, by preventing the deposition of plaque and lipids in the arteries, this is a key factor in the development and progression of heart disease. CLA may also help prevent heart disease by acting as an antioxidant and by lowering blood pressure.
The latest research is abundantly clear that meat (grass-fed), cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of heart disease like we’ve been told for decades.
One of the biggest studies to rebuke the saturated fat guidelines and advice to avoid red meat took place in 2016. Researchers analyzed data over a 16-year period from 42 countries that looked at the link between the foods they consumed and heart disease and they found NO link between saturated fat and heart disease. The foods found to be most associated with heart disease were high-glycemic carbs like bread, cereals, potatoes, crackers and pasta noodles.
Want more evidence that meat does not cause heart disease? Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, the #1 rated heart hospital in the world, says the evidence does not support the widely held belief that we should limit saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet.
Furthermore, In 2017 Dr. Salim Yusuf, one of the top cardiologists in the world who is also the president of the world heart federation said “contrary to common beliefs, the current recommendations to reduce saturated fat have no scientific basis.” and when he pressed further and asked what does cause heart disease? Dr. Yusuf replied, “Refined, processed carbohydrates” He went on to say, “When you eat a hamburger, throw away the bun and eat the meat”.