For those of you on the 40 years + side...ever notice that articles on “boosting heart health” become a little more interesting as you get closer to (or beyond) fifty?
Two “must do” heart healthy habits featured in the articles are exercise and eating well. When it comes to eating well, one of the best things you can do for your heart is to eat a balanced diet, filled with vegetables and fruit.
Filled? Yes! What the heck does that mean?
I recently read a study that found quantity of vegetable and fruit intake is more important than variety; a diet full of vegetables and fruits (more than 5 servings/day in total) is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.
I aim for 8 to 10 servings a day.
Each vegetable or fruit offers a unique package of nutrients but some may be better than others at protecting your heart. Citrus fruits, as well as other vitamin C and beta-carotene-rich veggies and fruit all get top billing for heart health benefits.
So you know what citrus fruit is, right? And you probably know that citrus fruit has vitamin C. But, vitamin C goes beyond oranges and grapefruits! Peppers, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, grapefruit, and cantaloupe are all bursting with C.
And what about beta-carotene rich vegetables and fruit? Look to dark orange and leafy green produce including carrots, sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, spinach, collards, kale, and cantaloupe.
Trying to get enough produce in your day can be tricky if you’re not eating it as snacks as well as at meals. So here’s a sweet snack that can contribute to your daily dose of citrus, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Citrus Sweet Potato Toast with Nut Butter
You can stand by your toaster and push the lever down again and again until the sweet potato is cooked, but I prefer to roast it in the toaster oven. It’s a much more efficient use of my time. Enjoy!
How To Make:
1. Scrub a sweet potato under cool running water until well-cleaned.
2. Cut into length-wise or width-wise slices about half an inch thick.
3. Roast in a toaster oven (or oven) at 400F for about 10 to 12 minutes or until just soft and starting to brown.
4. Spread it with natural nut butter (almond or peanut) and top with clementine sections.
5. Sprinkle with a few small dark chocolate chunks (the darker, the better for a little hit of heart-healthy anxioxidants) or chopped nuts (also heart boosters).
Tip: You can roast the sweet potato toast ahead of time. Keep in the fridge and reheat in the toaster.
Be good to your heart! How will you add more vegetables and fruits into your day?
He FJ et al. Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables is related to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of cohort studies. J Hum Hypertens. 2007 Sep; 21(9):717-28.
Bhupathiraju SN et al. Quantity and variety in fruit and vegetable intake and risk of coronary heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;98:1514-23.