Did you know that February is American Heart Month? The American Heart Association promotes eating an overall healthy diet by following the MyPlate guide to maintain your heart health. For the month of February, we will be highlighting the different food groups in MyPlate and how you and your family can easily incorporate them into a heart healthy diet.
The final MyPlate food group we’re celebrating for the month of February is fruit! Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits as well as 100% fruit juice are all considered part of the MyPlate fruit group. MyPlate recommends to make half of your plate in each meal filled with fruits and vegetables, and that children and adults should aim for 1-2 cups of fruit per day depending on age and gender. Like vegetables, fruits contain many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and folate, while also being low in sodium, calories, and saturated fats. Fruits like bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe have high amounts of potassium, which helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Whole fruits, such as apples with the skin and raspberries, are a good source of fiber, helping to lower blood cholesterol and support digestion. Though 100% fruit juices contain many of the vitamins and minerals of their whole fruit equivalent, they lack the heart-healthy fiber. To help improve heart health, try to focus more on whole fruits instead of juices.
- Pro-tip: When choosing canned fruit, choose an option that is packed in water or 100% fruit juice, rather than syrup. This will ensure you are getting the best nutritional value from canned fruits without the added sugars of syrup. Also, frozen fruits can be a great choice to add more fruit into your meals and snacks. Try frozen fruits in smoothies, eaten as-is for a warm weather sweet snack, or defrosted and used the same way you would use fresh fruit.
Try adding a colorful variety of fruit to your meals throughout the day to ensure you are getting all the health benefits that fruit can provide. Start the day by adding fruit to your morning oatmeal or cereal for plenty of fiber, or make a fruit smoothie with non-fat dairy and frozen fruit. Try branching out by adding chopped fruit or berries to a salad, or throwing pineapples slices or peach halves onto the grill the next time you barbecue.
For tips on how to add fruit to all your meals, check out https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit