Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February is Heart Month

With all of the decorations for Valentine's Day around I hope you'll be reminded that February is also Heart Month.  Cardiovascular diseases are the number one killer for both men and women in America, more than 1 in 3 are affected.  The good news is, even modest changes in lifestyle can provide significant benefits in your heart's health.

To help raise money for their ongoing research, Abundant Design, LLC is donating $1000 off a landscaping project for the American Heart Association & American Stroke Association's Heart Ball auction.  For more information about this event or how you can get involved follow the link.

In addition to medical research, healthy eating and living (like exercising more) can make a huge difference.  There are a good number of Heart Healthy foods you can grow right here in Iowa, to arm your fight against heart disease-

  • Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and are a main component of the Mediterranean diet, often touted as being very healthy with low incidences of heart disease.  They are also high in potassium, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure.  Tomatoes are probably the most commonly grown vegetable in home gardens, and their flavor puts store bought ones to shame.  Last years weather was hard on mine, with the cool wet weather early in the year and my late night watering during the hotter and drier months contributed to a problem with bacterial speck.  Watering earlier in the day can prevent this, so that water droplets on the fruit has a chance to evaporate.  A good layer of mulch or grass clippings will stabilize soil moisture levels and prevent splitting of the fruit.

  • Legumes such as beans, soy, and peas are an excellent source of protein without high amounts of unhealthy fat. One study found that people who ate legumes at least four times a week had a  lower risk of heart disease. Legumes may also help control blood sugar for people with diabetes.  These are easily grown, is loose fertile soil.  Most legumes host nodule forming bacteria in their roots which boost nitrogen levels benefitting other plants nearby with a necessary nutrient.  Many of these also have a perfect flower, meaning the seed can be dried and saved to plant the following year's crop.

  • Potatoes are rich in potassium, like tomatoes, and fiber which can help maintain a healthy weight which helps your heart.  Avoid frying them to prevent offsetting these benefits.  Potatoes produce the biggest tubers in loose sandy soil.  Here's a link to several ways to boost your potato yields.

  • Fresh green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, contain carotenoids that act as antioxidants neutralizing damaging free-radicals.  Kale also contains some Omega-3 fatty acids, the "weed" purslane has even more, that may lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

  • Blueberries, strawberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins, antioxidant flavonoids that may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. These plants are generally quite hardy once established, prefer mildly acidic soil and can provide years of fruit.

  • Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, is linked to many heart healthy benefits, but you can also get resveratrol from non-alcohol sources like grapes.  Many vineyards have popped up in Iowa in the past dozen years or so.

So this February make sure to treat your sweetheart on Valentine's Day, but also take time to make changes that will help your actual heart's health.  And as always, if you would like help designing or an installation of edible and sustainable landscapes, contact Abundant Design.

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