Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the greatest threat to the lives of women and men in the world? Women with PCOS commonly experience metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions including elevated triglycerides, high “bad” cholesterol, low “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and increased belly fat.
Fortunately, each day most of us can help decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Nutritional intake is important with some evidence suggesting to decrease saturated fats and other evidence to decrease trans fats. Decreasing salt intake is also recommended while increasing phytonutrient, fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables. Secondly, regular exercise can reduce body weight, blood pressure, “bad ” cholesterol and increase insulin sensitivity. In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and related conditions. Finally, quitting smoking is the single greatest change one can make to improve their heart and overall health.
Now you may be wondering where brownies fit into this heart-healthy lifestyle I speak of. Surprisingly, these delicious, fudgy treats are primarily made from black beans and unsweetened cocoa powder! Carry on to find out how these two ingredients can make a crowd-pleasing dessert that can support a healthy heart. PS. The trick is to not reveal the ingredients until AFTER your loved ones have tried the brownies. I promise they will be shocked. I would love to hear what you do to protect your heart!
- 2 cups dried black beans (must pre-soak and boil)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil, though may not be as heart-healthy)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (>75% real cocoa)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Blend all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor until completely smooth.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Pour into an 8×8 pan pre-greased with olive oil.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes being careful not to overcook as this could dry them out.
- Let brownies cool before cutting. I popped these in the freezer to firm up even more.
- black beans = high in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6 and phytonutrients which help lower blood pressure, manage blood sugar levels and prevent cardiovascular disease, contains several flavonoids including quercetin which is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis
- unsweetened cocoa powder = supports the cardiovascular system by enhancing vascular function and decreasing platelet reactivity, may help improve cholesterol levels, been shown to improve cognitive function, insulin resistance and blood pressure