According to the American Heart Association, eating fresh fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet that can help to keep heart disease at bay. It is so beneficial that they have actually deemed the month of June to be National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. The AHA has deemed that there are no fruits or vegetables that are actually bad for you, especially from the fresh category. That’s because canned veggies or dried fruit may have added sodium or sugar. So, how good are fresh fruits and vegetables for you? Keep reading to find out.
Do Fruits & Veggies Really Help Prevent Heart Disease?
Eating healthy is one of the most important and easy ways to help prevent heart disease. Only your doctor can recommend the perfect diet for you, but most healthy diets do include a fair amount of fruits and vegetables. Many of these natural, unprocessed foods have important micronutrients and antioxidants that your body needs to keep your heart healthy. Some specific veggies like garlic have actually been proven to contain compounds that help to lower cholesterol, an important factor in heart disease. So, yes, eating vegetables and fruits is an important component for those trying live heart healthy!
Is Fresh Better than Canned/Dried/Frozen?
Now that you’ve determined you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, what’s stopping you from stocking up on the canned, dried or frozen variety? Well, according to the AHA, fruits, and veggies are beneficial in any form, but you do have to be wary when it comes to processed foods. Many canned vegetables have salt added to them, and dried fruits are often coated with extra sugar to make them taste even more enticing. Both of these ingredients are a big no-no on a heart-healthy diet. Additionally, these foods may lose some of their nutrient value over time and through processing. The exception is frozen vegetables. As long as they are frozen close to the time of harvest, they may be just as good as the fresh thing. However, some frozen vegetables do also have salt added. So, fresh is best!
What Types of Produce are Best?
According to the AHA, every fruit and vegetable can be great for you. There’s really no magic food that will heal your heart overnight. Eating fruits and vegetables is simply a part of taking care of yourself for a lifetime. Make sure you eat a wide variety so you can get access to the different micronutrients to keep your heart healthy. They recommend eating a variety of colors and have several tips for how to get enough of them, even if you are not a huge fan of fruits and vegetables. Try blending them into soups, shredding them on top of your favorite meals, or mushing them in with lean ground meat for extra healthy burgers. So, any type of fresh produce could be a great part of your heart-friendly meal.
The AHA even suggests growing your own as a way to make the process even more fun. Learn how to build a full pallet garden, or just grow a few plants to get started. If you’re ready to adopt a healthier lifestyle, don’t leave the fresh fruits and veggies behind!