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Keeping a Sweet Heart

February is national heart month. Not only do we celebrate our loved ones with candy hearts, decadent chocolate and mushy love notes, but it is also the time of year to think about the heart health. The heart is a powerful muscle whose primary function is to pump blood to all parts of the body, delivering nutrients and oxygen to your organs and tissues. In an average day the heart will beat more than 100,000 times per day, pumping more than 4,300 gallons of blood throughout the entire body.

However, in 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that 16.7 million people around the world die of heart disease. Heart disease affects 1 out of 4 men and is the leading cause of death among women. Heart failure may occur suddenly, or develop gradually over years. But one thing is for certain, exercise and nutrition habits play a major role in preventing heart disease. Here are some nutrition tips to ensure you send many more roses and love notes for many years to come.

Eat for Your Sweet Heart:

Smiling man holding paper heart isolated on white backgroundFruits and Vegetables: Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that you are taking in a wide range of nutrients to protect against heart disease. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, beta carotene, bioflavonoids and phytochemicals, all of which are essential antioxidants in the prevention of heart disease.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3’s have been found to help decrease triglyceride levels, the rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and arrhythmias. Fish high in Omega 3 include: salmon, sardines, herring, trout, mackerel, bluefish, halibut, striped bass, tuna, Atlantic cod, and flounder. Other sources of Omega 3– rich foods include: canola oil, flaxseed, walnuts, and wheat germ.

Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber helps to decrease cholesterol levels, therefore working to decrease risk for heart disease. Foods high in soluble fiber include: oats, oat bran, pectin, pyslium, flax, lentils, legumes, apples, pears, and grapes.

Nuts: Nuts are high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and essential fatty acid. Eaten in moderation, nuts can help decrease risk for heart disease. A few examples of some heart healthy nuts include: almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts, and pistachios.

Folate: Foods rich in folate help to decrease risk for heart disease by helping to regulate homocysteine levels. Green leafy vegetables, orange juice, lentils, whole grain enriched cereals, and asparagus are great sources of folate.


Blueberry Spinach Avocado Smoothie


Recipe by Driscoll's Berries

This delicious & healthy blueberry spinach smoothie with avocado is the perfect way to start your day. Jam packed with omega-3, antioxidants, and essential vitamins, this smoothie is a great way to help you power through the day.

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll's Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey*
  • 1 cup ice
  • *For a sweeter taste, add an extra ½ tablespoon of honey
  1. Blend blueberries, spinach, banana, avocado, water, chia seeds, honey and ice in a blender until pureed and smooth, stirring several times.
  2. Serve immediately.
Serving Size: 1 (12oz)Calories: 305, Total Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g,Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 70 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 50 g,  Dietary Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 27 g, Protein 6 g


The Best Six Doctors

"The best six doctors anywhere And no one can deny it Are sunshine, water, rest, and air Exercise and diet. These six will gladly you attend If only you are willing Your mind they'll ease Your will they'll mend And charge you not a shilling." ~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

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Love Your Health, Love Your Food


Reproduced with permission of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (

Just a few steps and you can be on your way to a healthier heart:
  • Regular, moderate physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Be physically active in your own way. Start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Always check with your physician before beginning a workout regimen.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. One good goal is to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables every meal.
  • Eat less salt by preparing foods at home so you can control the amount of salt in your meals. As you prepare meals, use as little salt as possible. You can cut at least half the salt from most recipes. As you shop, select reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups and vegetables.
  • Eat whole grains.
  • Regularly eat fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (in water, if canned), mackerel and sardines.
  • Eat fewer foods with saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains.
If you need help with your healthful eating, consult a registered dietitian who can build a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. For more tips on a heart-healthy diet and information on reducing your risk for heart disease, visit diet.
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