One way to immediately improve your heart health is to eat more vegetables and fruits. In addition to being tasty and versatile, they offer a wide variety of nutrients for the heart.
The Canada Food Guide recommends eating vegetables and fruits in abundance. When half of your plate is made up of vegetables and fruit with each meal or snack, your risk of heart disease and stroke is lower.
Prevention of heart disease
Many vegetables and fruits are particularly rich in vitamin C, and beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. These substances act as antioxidants in your body and help slow or prevent atherosclerosis by reducing the accumulation of plaque formed by cholesterol and other materials inside the arteries. The great champions of vitamin C are:
Beta-carotene gives a distinctive red, orange or dark green colour to foods, so it’s easy to identify the best sources, such as:
Also, almost all vegetables and fruits are low in calories, fat and sodium. Research shows that high consumption of vegetables and fruits is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.
A good source of fibre
Eating vegetables and fruits provides an excellent source of fibre. Whenever possible, also eat the peel as it increases your daily fibre intake. For example, a raw apple with its skin contains ten times more fibre than 250 ml (1 cup) of apple juice.
Fresh and frozen products
Frozen or canned vegetables and fruits have about the same nutritional value as of fresh ones. When buying canned or frozen fruit, look for products without syrup or added sugar. So canned fruit in water is the best option.
To keep as many nutrients as possible, the best methods of cooking are steaming, roasting, or broiling. If you are using canned vegetables, look for varieties with no added salt or rinse them under water to remove most of the added salt.