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A Rainbow of Fruits and Veggies is Great for Your Heart

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April 30, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - If you're like many Hoosiers, you're planning your back-yard garden and considering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to grow. Dr. Regis Fernandes, a cardiologist with the Mayo Clinic, says you can't go wrong.

"Fruits and vegetables are very low in fat and very low in calories, so they are not harmful for your health. However, they provide an important number of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients."

The American Heart Association says planting and tending a garden is great physical activity, which is also good for your heart. Dr. Fernandes points out that people who regularly eat the recommended eight or more servings of fruits and veggies have lower incidence of heart disease.

"When you eat vegetables and fruit, you are less likely to eat empty calories that would arise from foods that don't provide much nutritional value and will give you calories in excess. Calories can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, so by eating vegetables you're less likely to eat other things that are unhealthy."

The Doctor says that when you grow your own fruits and veggies, you don't have to worry about the extra sugars and sodium that are often added to the packaged or prepared produce we buy at the store.

Dr. Fernandes says the best way to eat fruits and veggies is all day long.

"So, you add the vegetables to the meal instead of eating them separately. So, throughout the day you keep incorporating those vegetables in your meals and in between, and snacks, and then at the end of the day you're going to end up reaching that minimum requirement."

Consider planting colorful fruits and vegetables - red tomatoes, green lettuce, orange carrots - and then challenge yourself to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies during the gardening season. Try roasting your veggies, or even chopping them into bite-sized pieces and dipping them into low-fat or fat-free dressing.

For many more tips on making fruits and veggies a healthy part of your life, visit heart.org.


Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN