12 Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables That are Good for Your Heart (and Why!)
In order to prevent heart disease and maintain a healthy heart, we need to take steps towards protecting our hearts. We need to exercise, lead a healthy lifestyle (ex. No smoking, reduced sugar, etc.), as well as have a balanced diet! When we think of healthy eating we often try to add more vegetables and fruits into our meals. But did you know that particular fruits and vegetables are better for your heart when you get them in season? And if so, which ones are best in winter? Here are 12 seasonal fruits and vegetables that are good for your heart, and why!
These common vegetables may not be good for your heart if they are deep fried in grease and oils, but they can be if prepared right! Boil or bake potatoes and go light on the butter and sour cream! Potatoes are wonderful vegetables to add into your diet to include a starch to a meal, and to improve your heart health! Potatoes have potassium in them, which will work to lower your blood pressure and keep your heart beating at the perfect pace!
It is believed that red foods are good for your blood and heart. Pomegranates are no exception! These little red seeds are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that will improve your overall health. This fruit is said to reduce the risk of health problems including cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and heart disease! Pomegranates are a great ingredient to enhance yogurt, salads, oatmeal, or even on top of protein! A study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that when pomegranate juice was consumed over 3 months, the levels of inducible ischemia (inadequate oxygen in the blood carried to the heart) decreased (Sumner et al., 2005). Add this seasonal fruit to your diet and improve your heart health!
The health benefits of carrots seem to be endless! This crunchy, orange, seasonal vegetable is good for your heart and your health. The vegetable is packed with
- Vitamin A – reduces the risk of your heart walls thickening
- Vitamin C – lowers the risk of developing coronary heart disease
- and Vitamin K – reduces the risk of your blood clotting which can lead to heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Add these to your stir fry, muffins, casserole, salad, soup, side dish, or any other meal!
Besides the obvious benefit of Vitamin C, oranges (and other citrus seasonal fruits) have additional benefits as well! Similar to some seasonal vegetables, oranges have potassium (which is good for blood pressure), as well as fiber! Fiber works to absorb any bad cholesterol you may have in your blood, which will allow your blood to flow more freely. These delicious fruits are tasty in any fruit salad, breakfast meal, or as a snack at work!
Do you have high blood pressure? Well, you may not have thought to look to onions as a way to reduce it! Onions have Vitamin C (which, as we know is good for our hearts), as well as Flavonoids. Flavonoids work in the body to increase antioxidants and decrease inflammation, they also fight against cholesterol! Use this vegetable in your cooking and you can work to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” AND keeps heart disease at bay! Having these healthy fruits in your daily diet can actually boost your immune system and keep you sick-free. These fruits have:
- Fiber (a diet with fiber can help reduce risk of heart disease)
- Water (hydrates your system)
- Antioxidants (combat cholesterol)
- Vitamin C (reduce risk of coronary heart disease)
- Potassium (as we now know, lowers blood pressure)
- And flavonoids (just like onions, increases antioxidants and fights cholesterol).
This seasonal vegetable is a brilliant way to bring in those comforting tastes of fall and winter into your meals! There are a number of types of squash that you can use over the winter to improve your heart health, such as acorn squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, and many more! These vegetables work to increase your immune system and protect your heart (with the vitamin K and potassium within them). Eat these with your meals to decrease the stress on your heart and the risk of a heart attack!
For the health benefits of pears, it is exactly the same as apples! Although pears are a less common fruit for people to eat daily, they have almost identical health benefit as apples. These soft and juicy fruits are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K, Flavonoids, as well as small doses of magnesium and iron. Add pears to your meals or infuse it in your water! These seasonal fruits are good for your heart, skin, hair, and even may help with weight loss!
9. Sweet Potatoes
If you have a natural sweet tooth and crave those candies and treats, the sugar can have a bad effect on your overall health. Add sweet potatoes into your vegetable medley instead and satisfy your taste buds as well as help your heart! Sweet potatoes have high amounts of Vitamin B6 which works to reduce the risk of heart disease. The B6 Vitamin actually is connected to reducing the amount of ‘homocysteine’ in our bodies, which has been linked to problems with the heart. Sweet potatoes also have vitamin C (to help boost our immune systems), vitamin D (good for our bones), and iron (benefits our body’s immune system as well!). These potatoes are a delicious side to any meal, especially those Christmas dinners!
We all know that eating dates is a good way to keep us regular, but did you know that dates are also good for your heart? Dates are made up of fiber, various minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that all work to decrease cholesterol levels as well as improve blood pressure. When an individual suffers from high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, they are at more risk to experience a heart related event or develop heart disease. Take care of your body and eat date fruits to improve your heart health and protect your future.
Say hello to bad breath, because you will be adding garlic into your diet from here on out! This pungent yet tasty ingredient is one that will improve your heart health. A 2006 review conducted by Khalid Rahman and Gordon M. Lowe found that there is “an inverse correlation between garlic consumption and progression of cardiovascular disease” (American Society for Nutrition). The various enzymes and make up of garlic works to reduce your likelihood of having heart disease! Get cooking and be ready to smell up the house!
12. Grapefruit (BUT BE AWARE…)
Grapefruits are wonderful and tasty fruits that are available in the winter season. Eat and drink this fruit and you are on your way to heart health as it provides you with a decrease in your triglycerides (a type of cholesterol). Some studies have suggested that having a grapefruit every day can decrease the risk of heart disease. BUT, that being said, if grapefruits are eaten while on heart medication, it has been suggested to have the opposite effect. Livestrong identified that having a glass of grapefruit juice can enhance the levels of the heart medication, causing the reverse or dangerous effects. If you are on heart medication, be sure to speak with your doctor before drinking or consuming any grapefruit!
Add these seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet this winter and improve your heart health! Prevention is key to live a long and healthy life!