By: Michelle Faber, NBC- HWC, EP-C
February is heart month, and not just because of Valentine’s Day– it’s the month that we take a closer look at the number one killer of Americans, heart disease.
Did you know 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with heart disease annually? Or that heart disease is also the leading cause of death worldwide?
Not to mention, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased stress and decreased activity for many. Making some small lifestyle changes (in most cases) is something we can do to take control of our health.
For heart month, let’s give the gift of heart healthy snacks to our loved ones, friends, family and even ourselves. Here are a few recipes and tips that are fun to make and taste good too.
1. Try a sweet treat.
This strawberries and cream recipe is a nice red treat that provides dietary fiber, is rich in vitamin C and has phytonutrients which is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables and has lots of health benefits. You can have some fun with the strawberries for the kids—cut them into hearts, put them on kababs and/or serve them with some yogurt as well.
2. Green is good (even if it’s hidden).
Avocados have monounsaturated fat in them – which is a type of fat that helps improve cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke. You can try this Avocado Pesto Dip to get all the benefits of the avocado, and if you pair it with some red, yellow or orange bell peppers you’ll even get some extra vitamins, fiber and folate–all great heart disease-fighting nutrients. If you have a sweet tooth and try some Avocado with cocoa powder for a tasty pudding dessert.
3. Smooth things over.
Why not try making family and friends a delicious, sweet drink for a brunch or lunch? This Blueberry Mango Smoothie recipe is packed full of nutrients. Blueberries are high in a flavonoid/antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Plus, mangos add in extra magnesium and potassium. Throw in some low-fat or Greek yogurt and you have some extra vitamin D to support gut health too.
4. Goodness on the go.
Want some ideas to leave out for your family to easily grab or searching for packable snacks to drop off to friends and family? Try some of these easy to assemble ideas for quick, on-the-go, heart healthy snacks. Some are fruits and veggies, some are whole grains that are packed with dietary fiber to help improve blood cholesterol levels, and some are just for fun.
5. Level up your H2O.
Impress your family and friends, stay hydrated and experience countless health benefits with infused water. Not only are you hydrating, you’re also getting the vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and more depending on what you add! This is a tasty way to add some red, pink, and even more colors to your Valentine’s Day fun. Try this Strawberry Basil Lime Infused Water to start.
Make this Valentine’s Day fun, safe and healthy without giving up on tastiness. View the American Heart Association’s extra tips on how to have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day or check out these helpful ThinkHealth articles to learn even more heart health tips. Happy Heart Month!
About the Author: Michelle Faber, NBC- HWC, EP-C is a national board-certified health and wellness coach on the wellness team at Priority Health. She has a passion for helping individuals find their motivation and purpose to make and sustain healthy lifestyle changes in all areas of life. Michelle is certified as an Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine and loves working with people who are managing chronic disease, pregnancy, and exercise in young children and families. She is also an Orthopedic Specialist through the American Council on Exercise.