The month of February is closely associated with hearts: heart shaped Valentine’s Day cards, heart shaped candies, and heart health awareness month. Researching heart health can become overwhelming. The amount and scope of literature and advice available on heart health is tremendous. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, it progresses slowly, and often we do not notice the changes in how our bodies feel until we seek treatment. However, reading between the scientific and professional lines, and the harrowing “do’s” and “don’ts” is a very simple truth: variety is one key to heart health.
The advice is to consciously incorporate a daily variety of fruits and vegetables. If we consume a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables, our hearts reap the health benefits. As we know in Central Wisconsin, we may have several more months before fresh produce will be on the shelves of our local grocer or farmer’s market. With this being said, frozen fruits and vegetables make a wonderful alternative when fresh and seasonal are not available. Enjoy the last of the root vegetables and squashes before spring greens and berries arrive on the scene!
In addition to incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetable into our diet, variety in physical activity is another important key to heart health. Diversity can ensure that you do not become bored with the same walk around the block, or 3 mile run on the treadmill. It also ensures that your heart receives an assortment of healthy stresses to make it stronger. Just like variety in food choices helps avoid the feeling of stale meals, so too does the variety in physical activity keep you from hitting a plateau.
The science behind cardiovascular health can be confusing, so just remember the simple axiom: variety is the key to a healthy heart. Challenge yourself to constantly vary your activities and foods and give your heart a better place to live! You are what you eat, and what you do, so make a promise to yourself to honor your heart’s home by eating the rainbow and exercising regularly.
by Ashley J. Ormson