February is American Heart Month. Not just the chocolate-filled, pink-foiled, “Will you be my valentine?” heart month, but the 10-oz muscle-that-pumps-blood-oxygen-and-nutrients-thoughout-your-body-so-you-can-live month. The Heart Association probably got February because it looks really good in red, but isn’t every month heart month? And every day heart day? Your heart beats 60–100 times a minute depending on your age and exertion.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in our country, so we should all be familiar with its causes and prevention, regardless of our age. Risk factors such as being overweight, lack of physical activity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can be mitigated with lifestyle and diet changes.
According to the FDA, the best way to protect against heart disease is to consume:
- less fat
- less sodium
- fewer calories
- more fiber
You know what that means—more fruit and veggies! Fruit, veggies, and legumes are all low-fat, low-sodium, low-cal, and high in fiber. How much of them should you eat? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a handy calculator and the American Heart Association has a nifty chart.
Fruits provide a variety of tastes, aromas, textures, as well as antioxidants. How do they help us? The American Dietetic Association phrases it this way: “In your body, the antioxidant process is similar to stopping an apple from browning. Once you cut an apple, it begins to brown, but if you dip it in orange juice, which contains vitamin C, it stays white.” Fruits and veggies are a primary source of vitamins, minerals, and compounds like potassium, which are vital to maintaining healthy blood pressure.
FruitGuys Quiz: Your Heart Health
Which one of these is not a known risk factor to heart disease?
c) High Blood Pressure
d) Holding a red roses in your teeth
Best ways to manage stress:
c) Turn the light down low, light scented candles, and play Marvin Gaye
d) All of the above
If two 25-year-old people run toward each other through a field of daisies with arms outstretched, their heart rate:
a) should be 60–85% of their Heart Rate Zone
b) depends on if they are in slow motion and soft focus
c) will be going pitter-patter, pitter-patter
d) could be any of these
If you select the answer “d” in all three questions – you scored 100%! Cherry! Cherry! Cherry! Jackpot! So remember to eat more cherries (and everything else in your weekly FruitCrate) for better heart health.