Valentine’s Day is nearly here – so let’s celebrate by adding a few heart-healthy veggies and fruits to our daily diets, so we can spend more quality, healthy time with our loved ones! Here are a few ideas:
- Potatoes: Good source of potassium to help maintain health blood pressure levels.
- Carrots: Contain carotenoids, which are a terrific antioxidant for helping the body remove damaged cells.
- Asparagus: Great source of vitamin B6, which can lower homocysteine levels (an amino acid that is linked to heart disease).
- Bell Peppers: Like asparagus, this veggie is a source of vitamin B6, as well as folate and fiber to help manage cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Onions: Contain phytochemicals that can help lower cholesterol (also found in shallots and leeks).
- Red cabbage: Good source of carotenoids to keep cells healthy and reduce risk of artery hardening.
- Pumpkin: Contains phenolic antioxidants which may help to lower blood pressure.
- Apples: Contain flavonoids that reduce plaque adhesion on the arteries, lower cholesterol, and relax your arteries to lower blood pressure.
- Kiwis: Source of vitamin E, which is thought to help reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
- Pears: Contain high levels of soluble fiber to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Bananas: A good source of potassium and magnesium to help lower blood pressure.
- Avocado: In moderation, the monounsaturated fatty acids in this fruit can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
- Grapefruit: Contains calcium and other vitamins/minerals to help lower blood pressure.
- Figs (dried): A great source of fiber that helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Keep in mind that it’s not just what you eat that affects your heart health; you also have to consider how it is prepared. If you are sautéing, use small amounts of olive or canola oil, or water if possible. Low fat, healthy cooking methods include broiling, baking, steaming, or poaching. In baked dishes you can cut oil or fat amounts by replacing half the amount with water or applesauce. Also look for new ways to incorporate these fruits and veggies into your diet – such as eating dried fruit as a snack, adding avocados to your smoothies, or trying a new mix in your next salad or casserole. There are limitless combinations – so do your heart a favor and give it a try! Photo (top): rearechelon