by The Culinistas
(as part of our Wellness Through Food: Way to Your Heart series)
Tea has many health benefits, such as boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, and helping in the fight against cancer. But when it comes to matters of the heart, tea stands above the pack (sorry, coffee). Teas are packed with flavonoids, which help the aforementioned inflammation, a major player in heart disease. Regularly including tea in your diet can also help lower cholesterol and improve function in blood vessels.
We talk to Pique Tea’s Alyssa Wee about more heart health benefits, why green tea is the real hero, and why it’s important to always follow your heart.
The Culinistas: Why do you think some are half-hearted about heart health?
Alyssa Wee: Lack of education or discussion about it within their circles. They have never had the experience [personally] or know anyone going through any issue involving heart health.
TC: What’s one easy step anyone can take to protect their heart?
AW: By being mindful, consuming the right heart-healthy foods and exercising regularly.
TC: What’s the biggest impact of tea on heart health?
AW: Green tea is full of antioxidants that can support heart health.
Green tea is famous for its epigallocatechin gallates (EGCG). Researchers say EGCG can assist in healthy weight management by enhancing the number of calories burned. It can also increase feelings of satiety and support healthy blood sugar levels to combat pesky hunger pangs.
The dietary antioxidants help support healthy cholesterol levels, especially harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Matcha green tea is one of the best green teas because you actually consume the ground-up, bright green, phytonutrient and chlorophyll-filled tea leaves.
TC: What’s the biggest myth about heart health?
AW: Being too young to care about heart health.
TC: What is one dish or food that is the way to your heart?
AW: Lots of fish, avocado and spinach! I also love nuts and grew up eating nuts as snacks.
TC: What’s your go-to cure for a broken heart?
AW: Mindfulness and meditation. Seeking help and advice from friends and family.
TC: What’s one thing you’ve always had your heart set on, but never tried?
AW: Surprisingly it’s starting a YouTube channel! I’ve wanted to for almost 15 years now. I’m planning to do so sometime this year or next as a hobby and see where that takes me.
TC: What’s something you’ll always hold near and dear to your heart?
AW: The memories I’ve had with friends and family. Also all the struggles I’ve been through personally… what we would call “life’s challenges.” Only through hardship, struggle and pain do we grow. So I will always cherish these moments where I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and grow.
TC: Tell us about a time you followed your heart and it paid off.
AW: Moving to LA in pursuit of a new career path has paid off by making me realize my strengths, passion and joy in what I do every day.
We asked Alyssa to select six of her favorite dishes from our Way to Your Heart menu and tell us why:
Ginger Chicken & Broccoli Soup
chicken, garbanzo, ginger, broccoli, celery, lemon, allspice, za’atar, cumin, cayenne, onion powder
“Ginger is warming and great in supporting the body’s inflammation response. Chickpeas and broccoli are also high in fiber and many other vitamins like vitamin K and folate.”
Eggplant and Chickpea Salad
eggplant, garbanzo bean, tomato, cucumber, mint, cumin, sumac, za’atar, cayenne, onion powder
“I love eggplant. It can be enjoyed in so many different ways. The combination of the ingredients has fiber, which is great for the body.”
Salmon with Raisin & Scallion Sauce
wild salmon, scallion, raisin, lemon, urfa
“Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, paired with raisin for a good combination of savory and sweet. Raisins are also rich in potassium, which is great for the body.“
Potato Kale Salad
potato, kale, walnut, onion, lime, garlic, sumac
“I love potatoes. It’s a great form of ingesting potassium. Paired with kale and walnuts for fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts also add a nice texture and crunch to the dish and are also great for brain health and hair.”
Sweet Potato and Chickpea Fritters
sweet potato, broccoli, garbanzo bean, cilantro, whole wheat flour, urfa, sumac, onion powder
“Just some of my favorite foods with a nice added texture coming from the fritters. I love potatoes (all kinds) and so this was a no-brainer.”
Grilled Stone Fruit
peach, nectarine, apricot, dried cherry, pecan, sumac
“I grew up having fruit for dessert and love all stone fruit! Grilling them brings out the sweetness and pairing them with pecans makes for a great source of healthy fats to support good heart health.“
Follow along with our Way to Your Heart initiative on Instagram.