Integrative Medicine Blog

Get to the HEART of it!

Holly J. Niles MS, CNS, LDN Sunday, February 11, 2018
Istock-heart health

Heart health is about being healthy in all areas of life!

When we look at heart health, we often focus on the physical heart, getting checkups for signs of heart disease and labs measuring cholesterol levels. These are important for sure but in Functional Medicine, we see heart health going beyond that. Heart health is about being healthy in all areas of our life, finding things you love and enjoying life!

Make your heart happy by creating a happy life!

  1. Balance your food, get connected to what you eat, enjoy lots of plants and make room for well-chosen pleasures for special occasions. Research shows that a Mediterranean type diet is optimal and includes so many delicious foods.
  2. Move it, Move It! The more we move, the healthier we are-there is no doubt about that. It not required that you join a gym but finding ways to stay strong and flexible are key. Rhumba, walk, swim, do yoga, climb stairs-find a way that you like to move your body. Make that connection every single day and get that heart pumping!
  3. Laugh….a lot. People who laugh often are connected to the joy of living and tend to not take everything so seriously. Every day, find something that makes you laugh out loud!
  4. CHILL out more! Stress is such a drag on your whole body. Mark Twain famously said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened”. If you are a worrier, take steps to let go of that habit. Letting go of stress creates ease in the body and reduces inflammation which can be a factor in heart disease.
  5. Find Passion: having a purpose or feeling like you do something that matters keeps us in the game. Whether it’s a charity, job, hobby or church group- it doesn’t matter. Be part of something that gives your life meaning-open your heart to help someone else!

In the spirit of the Mediterranean diet, here is a delicious salad recipe!

Greek Salad with Avocado


2 English cucumbers, peeled in stripes and cut into ½ inch slices

1½ pounds small tomatoes, I use cocktail tomatoes, stemmed and quartered

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1½ cups kalamata olives, pitted and halved

¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 avocados, pitted and cut into chunks

1 cup feta cheese, broken into large chunks- can use goat/sheep or vegan options


½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons sugar or honey

1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. In a large serving bowl, combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives and parsley. Place the avocado in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a small canning jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, sugar and salt and pepper. Top with the lid and shake well until blended and emulsified. Season with more sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pour 1 tablespoon or so of the dressing on the avocado and gently mix to coat. Pour the rest of the dressing on the cucumber mixture and toss to coat. Add the avocado to the salad and top with chunks of feta cheese and serve.


As the salad sits, the juices from the vegetables will release, adding to the amount of dressing. If you prefer, reserve some of the dressing and add only if needed for more moisture.