February is American Heart Month, a time to be aware of and encourage behaviors that support heart health. The heart is a strong muscle that pumps blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. Physical activity and the foods you eat can have long-lasting effects on heart health. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and beans are high in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that support and protect the heart.
Whole grains such as oats and oatmeal are especially heart-healthy because they contain beta-glucan, (BAYTAH-glew-can) a compound that lowers the risk of disease by lowering fat levels in the blood linked to heart disease (LDL cholesterol). The fiber in oats also digests more slowly, helping to keep hunger away and keep blood sugar levels within a normal range.
Valentine’s Day (February 14), is often celebrated by eating chocolate, frequently in the shape of a heart. DO you know how chocolate is made? Chocolate is made by processing cocoa powder from the seeds of the Cacao tree.
Americans eat more than 13 pounds of chocolate per person per year, but the Swiss eat more chocolate than any other country in the world – 22 pounds per person each year. That’s a lot of chocolate! Because chocolate is made with sugar and can be high in calories, eat it only as a special treat and be sure to balance it by eating healthy foods the rest of the day.
For fun facts about chocolate go to the following link:
Contributed by Leslie, Consultant for Nutrition Management Services
Registered Dietitian/Clinical Nutritionist