by Tracy Rohland

A healthy diet is the best defense against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight; the three main factors contributing to heart disease. In honor of February as Heart-Healthy month, Down To Earth brings you some tips to maintain your heart plus a few recipe ideas.

The following is based on the American Heart Association guide for healthy American Adults:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Choose 5 or more servings per day.
  • Eat a variety of grain products, especially whole grains and bran, which is particulary good for the heart. Choose 6 or more servings per day.
  • Include organic milk products, legumes, beans, seeds and nuts.
  • Choose healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids from flax, nuts, and avocados.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in calories or low in nutrition. This includes foods with a lot of added sugar like soft drinks and candy.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol (animal products such as red meat, chicken, pork and eggs are high in these fats).
  • Limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Maintain your ideal weight.
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Walk or do other activities for at least 30 minutes a day.