Eat for Heart Health
Valentine’s Day is a fun celebration that can serve as a reminder to eat for heart health. February is American Heart Month and a great time to remind people that heart disease can be reduced by choosing a healthier diet and lifestyle. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Taking a few simple steps to improve eating and lifestyle habits can make a big difference in your overall health that can reduce the risk of both heart disease and stroke. USDA’s MyPlate can help you do that.
MyPlate Dietary Plan
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is one recommendation for maintaining heart health. In fact, when it comes to fruits and vegetables – MORE matters for most Americans. USDA’s MyPlate dietary plan graphic is a simple tool to help you make better food choices and a visual reminder to select foods from all five (5) food groups.
Fruits & Veggies
MyPlate conveys that half your plate should consist of vegetables and fruits with the vegetable portion larger than the fruit portion. You should also vary the selection and colors of vegetables and fruits as different ones contain different nutrients. Keep in mind that fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice are all good options, but try for no more than one (1) cup of juice a day. See Heart-Healthy Dessert Ideas
Grains & Protein
The other half of your plate should include grains and protein with the grain portion larger than the protein portion. Half the grains should be whole grains which include the bran, germ and endosperm of the whole grain kernel. The protein choices should be lean animal sources such as seafood, poultry and lean red meat. Plant-based protein sources such as dried beans and peas are good choices as well. Nuts and seeds are also good protein sources but are higher in fat so keep portions small.
Remember the dairy! Drink skim or low-fat (1%) milk and select fat-free yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. Skim milk can also be used as an ingredient in foods such as pudding or cream soups.
Valentine’s Day provides the opportunity to show concern for your loved one’s health by serving a luscious dessert or treat made from nutrient-packed fruits or vegetables instead of high-sugar, high-fat and nutrient-poor options. Enjoy these heart-healthy desserts throughout American Heart Month … or anytime!
Gingered Fruit with Walnuts
This dessert includes diced Red Delicious apples and pears in a lightly sweetened vanilla yogurt with a touch of citrus from lime, a slight spicy pungency from the ginger, and a light sprinkling of walnuts. It is delicious and easy to make! Here’s the recipe …
- 2 cups diced red delicious apples
- 2 cups diced pears
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (divided)
- 1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
Combine apples, pears and 1 tablespoon lime juice in medium bowl and toss to coat fruit with juice. Combine 1 tablespoon lime juice, yogurt, honey and ginger in a small bowl and stir to mix. Add yogurt mixture to fruit and toss. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle with walnuts just before serving.
These apples are glazed with an apple juice and cinnamon reduction and are absolutely fabulous! See Recipe
Butternut Squash Pudding Dessert
This warm pudding dessert is made from puréed butternut squash and a delightful blend of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Just sprinkle with chopped pecans. What a treat this is to warm the heart of that special someone! See Recipe
Becky Varner, MS,RD,LD
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