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4‑H for Health: A Pledge to Greater Heart Health

February 7, 2017 9:14 AM

February is all about hearts! Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up, but it’s also American Heart Month.

The heart is one of the most important organs in your body–you can’t live without it! Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

It’s about time we showed our hearts a little more love!

papaya, breakfast, heart, healthy, health, american health month, nutritionYou can start improving your heart health today, with the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple 7’:

  1. Avoid smoking and using tobacco products.
  2. Be physically active every day.
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  4. Keep a healthy weight.
  5. Keep your blood pressure healthy.
  6. Keep your total cholesterol healthy.
  7. Keep your blood sugar healthy.

Did you notice that five out of the seven items are related to diet and nutrition? Healthy eating is one of the most efficient ways to keep your heart pumping like it should.

So this February, slam the brakes on all that candy and chocolate (it’s tough, I know!) and try some heart healthy recipes instead!

One of my favorite breakfast dishes is a papaya boat. Papayas are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and fiber, all of which are great for your heart!
Start with a quarter of a papaya, and fill the divot in the center with a few tablespoons of your favorite plain yogurt. I love goat milk yogurt for its smooth texture, but Greek yogurt works well too! Just make sure there aren’t any added sugars–the papaya is sweet enough!

Sprinkle some berries, nuts, and seeds on top of the yogurt. I like blueberries, which have tons of phytonutrients. Peanuts and sunflower seeds add some healthy fats and protein, not to mention a great crunch!

Now dig into all those bright, beautiful colors on your plate, because taking care of your heart is the best Valentine you can get!

Visit MyLifeCheck.org to understand more about heart health and learn ideas to help you make healthy choices.

About the Author

Ruwanthi Ekanayake

Ruwanthi Ekanayake

Ruwanthi Ekanayake, through University of California Cooperative Extension, is the 2016 winner in the Healthy Living pillar, sponsored by Molina Healthcare. She was also named the National 4‑H Youth in Action winner. As a member of the National 4‑H Healthy Living Ambassador team, Ru has been instrumental at bringing 4‑H’ers across the country together. She has also launched The Fourth H blog and created a Healthy Living Youth Summit for nine counties in Southern California.

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