You make my heart BEET!

While June 16th is not a day that we typically think of as a holiday, it is indeed the official "Fresh Veggies Day!" And since vegetables are so good for our hearts and our overall health, it only makes sense to celebrate them.

There are multiple ways that vegetables are good for your health. The recommended amount of vegetables that you are supposed to eat a day is about two and a half cups which helps lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. A recent study from 2017 published in the International Journal of Epidemiology estimated that if you were to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet to 10 servings a day, you could lower the risk of cardiac disease by 28% and the risk of premature death by 31%.

 

Vegetables contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals that can impact your health in many ways including helping to strengthen and protect your heart. Vegetables are also really good for lowering the amount of fat content entering your body, which can help you keep a healthy weight and blood pressure. 

 

It is a great idea to make sure that you not only eat your veggies, but eat a wide variety of vegetables. When shopping, it is best to buy vegetables fresh or frozen as opposed to its canned counterpart as they normally retain more of its natural nutrients. Not only that, but canned vegetables often contain high amounts of sodium. Therefore, if you tend to choose pre-packaged or canned vegetables, at least make sure to check the nutrition label for the sodium content.

 

Here are some tips to keeping enough veggies in your diet:

 

  • Keep them colorful - By aiming to make your plate a colorful rainbow, you are more likely to eat a variety of vegetables that will supply you with a wide range of vitamins and nutrients.

  • Veggie it up - Add some vegetables into dishes and foods that you already enjoy eating, such as pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. 

  • Roast, roast, roast - By roasting and slightly caramelizing vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, or eggplant, you can bring out its natural sweetness.

  • Dip it - While vegetable dips may help make plain vegetables more delicious, be sure to first check its label for sodium and sugar content. If you can, aim for the lower-fat or lower-sodium variety.

  • Cooking for health - Use health-friendly cooking methods such as grilling, roasting, and sauteing and use healthier oils (olive, canola) or lower fat cooking sprays to keep the veggies as healthy as possible.

  • Juice it up - While it takes a little more effort, juicing is a great way to hide the taste of veggies in a fruit-vegetable drink or smoothie. Be aware, though, that juicers often remove most of the fiber content of the vegetables, so be sure to still get your portion of whole veggies and fruits. 

 

Most vegetables are very good for you, however, if you have certain medical conditions such as a-fib and are on blood thinners, you may have to be careful of which ones you choose, as some types of vegetables can interact with them. But as long as you are being careful and following your doctor's instructions, eating vegetables is still one of the best things you can do for your heart and for your overall health. “What's good for your heart is good for your brain and good for you in general,” says Arthur Agatston, MD, a cardiologist and founder of the South Beach Diet.

 

So go ahead--be encouraged to follow your mother's advice when she says, "Eat your veggies!"

 

Your body will thank you.

 

*****

 

References:

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/fruits-and-vegetables-for-heart-health-more-is-better

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/About-Fruits-and-Vegetables_UCM_302057_Article.jsp#.WyE7iVVKjcs

 

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