heart health month
Hearts are aflutter this month, so it’s time to think heart health and the importance of a veggie-heavy diet.
strike a connection with vegetables for heart health
You’d be amazed by what nature has in store for your health. For instance, vegetables are full of nutrients like potassium and magnesium, which contribute to a strong heart. Plants and vegetables absorb these nutrients and minerals from the soil where they’re grown. Nitrogen is a lesser known mineral derived from soil, found in vegetables in the form of nitrate. Most people relate nitrates with cured meats, but about 85% of the nitrates we consume come from vegetables.
Nitrates make their way into the soil through a variety of methods, including through fertilizers, plants called legumes, or as a result of lightning strikes! Lightning combines nitrogen and oxygen from the air and through rainfall, ends up in the soil as nitrate. Plants absorb this mineral from the soil and it becomes part of the roots, leaves, and stems. When we eat these plant parts or the vegetables these plants produce, our bodies convert nitrate to a substance called nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and increases blood flow. Just another way vegetables can be heart-healthy!
Some vegetables higher in nitrates include spinach, beets, lettuce, celery, broccoli, kale, radishes, green beans, cucumbers, carrots, sweet peppers, and green peppers. In addition to nitrates, these vegetables offer an abundance of other beneficial compounds. Keep in mind that the body needs a wide range of nutrients, so eating a variety of vegetables is key to good health.
Ways to enjoy vegetables in a heart-healthy diet:
- Steam spinach and add flavor with a squeeze of lemon
- Roast beets with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of thyme
- Add chopped celery or kale to a warm, savory soup
- Spread nut butter or hummus on crunchy celery sticks
- Add color and crunch to a sandwich with lettuce
- Dip fresh carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers into dressing or add them to a salad for a burst of flavor
- Toss broccoli with a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for five minutes
- Roast radishes with a hint of rosemary
- Mix radishes and cucumbers with plain Greek yogurt for a smooth, creamy salad
- Add chopped kale to a sizzling stir-fry
- Steam green beans and carrots for a fresh and crisp side dish
Find more tips for a heart healthy diet and lifestyle, check out our Heart Health brochure in our Health & Wellness Library.