Is important to highlight the many ways our fruits and veggies fuel and maintain a healthy heart. Versatile veggies and fruit can be added to a variety of dishes or savored on their own to enhance a heart-healthy diet with fiber and essential nutrients. Make a habit of enjoying them with every meal and snack.
Many fruits and vegetables are rich in soluble fiber, which can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Soluble fiber may also reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
The red, orange, and yellow found in our colorful carrots, berries, beets and more aren’t just beautiful in a perfectly presented dish. This array of colors are power-packed phytochemicals that likely serve our body in a variety of ways including reducing inflammation and blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and overall lessening the risk of heart disease.
Some phytochemicals are antioxidants, which are known to “attack” those harmful molecules in our body known as free radicals. Free radicals result naturally from metabolic processes or from toxins like air pollutants and cigarette smoke and cause damage to our cells. They also increase our risk of disease, including heart disease. The antioxidants found in our colorful produce “attack” free radicals and decrease this risk.
Fruit and veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are aligned with heart health including B vitamins (folic acid and B6), as well as vitamins C, E, and beta carotene. Choose citrus, broccoli, asparagus, dark greens, sweet potatoes, papaya, cantaloupe and other produce rich in these vitamins and minerals.
Versatile avocado should be a regular on your shopping list to ensure that heart-healthy, risk-reducing monounsaturated fat is a steady part of your diet. While most fruits and vegetables don’t contain fat, satisfying avocado remains a solid source of heart-healthy fat.
Allison J Stowell, MS, RD & Produce For Better Health Foundation