Study after study reports that when your diet is high in fruits and vegetables -- which are the richest natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber -- you are doing the best you can to protect your heart and help prevent many diseases, including cancer. Yet, approximately 90% of Americans fail to meet the government's recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
An apple a day may "keep the doctor away," but you'll be doing your body a favor if you sometimes snack on other kinds of produce -- kiwifruit, blueberries, carrots, pomegranate juice, or dried apricots, to name just a few. If you don't already eat at least two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables every day, consider the following heart-healthy tips:
- Heart Health Tip 1. Stock up on fresh fruits and keep them visible.
- Heart Health Tip 2. Add fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast cereal.
- Heart Health Tip 3. Thaw frozen berries and add them to plain or low fat vanilla yogurt for a snack or dessert.
- Heart Health Tip 4. Have a six-ounce glass of 100% fruit juice with your breakfast.
- Heart Health Tip 5. Make a "spritzer" by adding 100% fruit juice to sparking water or seltzer.
- Heart Health Tip 6. Enjoy a fruit smoothie made by blending low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruits.
- Heart Health Tip 7. Bring dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries, apple slices) to work for your snack break.
- Heart Health Tip 8. Add tomatoes, onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms to an egg-white omelet.
- Heart Health Tip 9. Chill small cans of vegetable juice to snack on at work.
- Heart Health Tip 10. When dining out, start your meal with a salad.
- Heart Health Tip 11. Include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and other raw vegetables in your wrap or sandwich.
- Heart Health Tip 12. Add raisins, grapes, or apple slices to your salads.
- Heart Health Tip 13. Make a big pot of vegetable soup on the weekend and freeze it in single-portion containers.
- Heart Health Tip 14. Make your own pizza (you can buy ready-to- use dough at a pizzeria or supermarket) and top it with mushrooms, onions, broccoli, spinach, or eggplant.
- Heart Health Tip 15. Double the portion of vegetables you already eat at lunch and dinner.