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Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain

I remember eating my first omelet like it was yesterday. (What, you don’t?) We were in the kitchen of our New York City apartment when my mom whisked up an egg to make an omelet for me. I was seven or eight. My mom was always afraid of heart disease, having had a father who passed from it, which probably explained why growing up I never saw her eating eggs.

Their cholesterol-rich yolks, after all, had been in the national doghouse for decades as a causative player in heart disease. One night, however, she offered to cook one for me as a treat. She calibrated the flame on her beloved cast-iron skillet, given to her by her own mother, which had been seasoned with the corn oil that always sat by the stove. *

I sat down at the breakfast bar so that I could watch her and, a couple of moments later, picked up a knife and fork. As she slid the plate over to me, my excitement for what was to be my firstever egg-eating experience was deflated by a sudden warning from Mom: “You can’t eat these too often. The fat and cholesterol in the yolks will clog your little arteries!”

(To her credit she also often told me that trying new foods would make me a better lover to the future Mrs. Lugavere. I was always a picky eater, and this was her way of getting me to loosen up. My mom always had a quirky sense of humor. Did her promise hold true? Let’s just say I remain a picky eater.) A few years later, we were on vacation in south Florida, which is where many New Yorkers retreat to in order to escape the winter cold.

It was there that I had my first taste of another food: coconut. I instantly fell in love with the rich texture, subtle sweetness, and tropical flavor. At the ripe old age of twelve, I understood in that moment why New Yorkers liked Florida so much—the coconuts! But that affair too was cut tragically short when my mom told me that coconut meat was unhealthy.

Last speech

“It’s rich in saturated fat, which is bad for the heart.” In this chapter, we’re going to take a swan dive into all things vascular health. Why a whole chapter dedicated to blood vessels in a book about the brain? Because the health of your veins and arteries affects more than just the heart and your potential for heart disease.

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