Health is our greatest gift and one that needs to be nurtured to stay strong.
Managing our heart health is one way we can take steps to keep our health.
February is Heart Month, the time each year when we spread messages of the importance of heart health.
Our objective is to reduce the overwhelming numbers of people negatively affected by heart disease which is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the US.
81 million Americans have cardiovascular disease.
Years ago the focus was on heart disease among men, but now we know how greatly it affects women, which is why we celebrate on February 3 with Go Red For Women!
We all need to go red, and purple, and orange and green and….in our diets to eat a rainbow for our health.
Lifestyle Factors to Manage
There are multiple risk factors for heart disease that we can all make inroads to reduce.
Some lifestyle habits need to be managed in order to reduce our heart disease risk including:
- High blood pressure – 34% of adults have hypertension
- High cholesterol – 16% of adults have high cholesterol
- Inadequate diet
- Excessive alcohol
Improving the Color (Health) Of Our Diet
Colorful foods in our meal pattern every day give us the nutrients we need to fuel our bodies for health.
Eating from the rainbow means that we are eating plant based foods in greater numbers, which will parlay into a heart healthy meal plan.
You can add more color to your meals by adding more of these beauties!
Rainbow of Nutrition
|Pineapple||Tomatoes||Greens - Collards, Mustard||Eggplant||Papayas|
|Spaghetti Squash||Raspberries||Zucchini||Purple Grapes||Carrots|
|Asian Pear||Blood Oranges||Avocado||Blackberries||Peaches|
|Star Fruit/Carambola||Strawberries||Green Beans||Elderberries||Mangoes|
|Banana||Watermelon||Broccoli||Prunes||Winter Squashes - Hubbard, Acorn, Butternut|
|Yukon Gold Potatoes||Kidney Beans||Brussel Sprouts||Purple Cauliflower||Apricots|
|Radicchio||Green Grapes||Purple Asparagus|
|Goji Berries||Honeydew Melon|
|Red Grapes||Bell Peppers|
(View/download table as a pdf → NTFTOI Rainbow of Nutrition)
These colorful foods on our plate add a variety of nutrients to our meals too.
We get a rich supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, water, fiber, and protein in these shining stars.
Produce is where we find phytochemicals, so family members who avoid their veggies are missing out on a great source of these important substances. Phytochemicals act as antioxidants, which protect us against cellular damage. They work in concert with other nutrients.
How Much Do We Need for Protection?
Most of us don’t eat enough plant foods, which is why it is so important to make an effort to add more to our meals.
We should be looking for the darkest color produce in each of the above-mentioned color hues. The darker the color, the greater the concentration of nutrients.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits per day to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease.
We all need to work a bit harder to find ways to incorporate more color in our meals.
Extra Effort is Worthwhile
Most enjoy fruits although we don’t always include even the sweetest foods in our meals because we don’t want to clean and cut it or don’t buy it because we are afraid it will spoil before we eat it.
Stir fry, smoothies, raw with a dip, roasted or steamed vegetables aren’t that hard to create and can be very tasty too, even for those in the family who typically turn up their noses at produce.
As vegetables begin to move onto the plate at your local restaurants, side salads finally aren’t the only way for you to add some color when you dine out.
There are great varieties of produce available all year round in the freezer, on the shelf, or in the produce section so there is no excuse to add a few to each meal.
Here’s to improving our heart health by following the rainbow to the pot of gold!
The groundwork for all happiness is good health ~~ Leigh Hunt