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.
Next up, is the vegetable group! Vegetables provide many important nutrients, including vitamins C and A, folate, potassium, and fiber, to keep our body’s healthy and functioning properly. Vegetables high in potassium, such as potatoes, beets, spinach, and many types of beans, can help you to maintain healthy blood pressure. The fiber found in most vegetables, especially dark green vegetables like spinach, chard, and artichokes, can help to lower blood cholesterol levels, help with digestion, and help to keep you fuller longer, aiding in maintaining a healthy weight. MyPlate recommendations state that children and adults should aim to make half of each meal fruits and vegetables, consuming between 1 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables a day, depending on age and activity level.
When choosing vegetables to add to your diet, strive for variety! Eating a variety of different vegetables in different colors helps to ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients found in vegetables. Different colored vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, all of which are important to maintain a healthy eating pattern.
- Pro-tip: When purchasing canned and frozen vegetables, be sure to check Nutrition Facts labels and choose ones that have reduced or no added sodium. Too much added sodium in your diet can cause elevated blood pressure, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.
For information on the Nutrition Facts label before your next food purchase, visit this Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP) Healthy Choices at Home Newsletter.