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February is American Heart Month

Learn what foods are heart-healthy and tips to add them to your everyday diet.
February is American Heart Month

Photo used under license from www.thinkstock.com

We see lots of heart-shaped items in February. Let the red and pink boxes and drawing on cards remind you of your own heart. Respect your hard-working heart by getting regular exercise and eating healthful foods.

These foods were rated by nutrition experts* as among the "best of the best" heart-healthy foods. Note the ones that are a part of your regular diet.

  • Salmon has heart-healthy omega-3 fats. You can purchase it fresh, frozen, or canned. Compare prices to stretch your budget.
  • Oatmeal is a whole-grain food that provides soluble fiber, along with minerals and vitamins. See the recipe included in this newsletter.
  • Dry Beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, and other legumes, provide fiber, B vitamins and minerals. Canned beans are a convenient way to eat more beans, but canned beans are higher in sodium than the beans you soak and cook. Check out "7 Steps to Using Dry Beans" at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1701.pdf
  • Almonds and walnuts provide plant omega-3 fats, along with magnesium, fiber and many other nutrients. Try a small handful as a satisfying snack, or add some crunch to your favorite recipes.
  • Tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Shop for "water-packed" tuna for a lower-calorie addition to tuna salad sandwiches.
  • Brown rice is a whole-grain food rich in B vitamins, fiber and minerals. Try stir-fried vegetables over brown rice.
  • Berries, including blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants that help protect your body. Sprinkle yogurt with berries, or make a smoothie.
  • Carrots are rich in fiber and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in you body. Shred some carrots into chili, or have baby carrots available as a quick snack.
  • Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Use spinach instead of iceberg lettuce to make a power-packed salad.
  • Broccoli provides beta-carotene, vitamin C and minerals such as potassium. Steamed broccoli adds color and nutrition to your menu.

This list also includes sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, oranges, tomatoes, soy foods (tofu, soy milk), ground flaxseed, acorn squash, cantaloupe, dark chocolate and tea.

Do you notice that many of the plant foods on the list are very colorful? Aim for a variety of foods in your diet everyday, not only these foods. A piece of dark chocolate once in a while is OK, too!

*Sources: WebMD nutrition staff, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and The Cleveland Clinic

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise February 2014 Newsletter (PDF)

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