5 easy tips for a happy, healthy heart

Published On: Oct 11 2011 02:09:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2011 11:13:37 AM CDT

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(NewsUSA) - Experts have found that good nutrition and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables continues to be one of the best ways to safeguard our health. Unfortunately, this time-tested advice proves more easily said than done, and heart disease remains one of the top killers of Americans.

Every 25 seconds someone experiences an episode of coronary distress, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about one person will die from a coronary event every minute. These are striking statistics that should be taken to heart as part of a commitment to making small changes that will lead to big health results.

"People think that maintaining a healthy diet is difficult, but it's important to remember that making small dietary and lifestyle changes can reap major health rewards," says Christine M. Palumbo, registered dietitian and a nutrition advisor for California Raisins. "For example, adding California Raisins to your diet will deliver potassium and antioxidants along with fiber and inulin to help promote a healthy heart and digestive system. Plus, just 1/4 cup equals a full serving of fruit."

Here are five easy tips Palumbo recommends in order to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle and boost your heart health:

1. Lose 10. If you are overweight, losing just 10 percent of your body weight will reduce blood pressure, inflammation and belly fat.

2. Move more. According to the latest data, Americans watch 34 hours of TV each week. Try putting a treadmill in front of the screen, jump rope, or march in place during half of your TV-watching time. Even brief bouts of activity improve cardiac risk.

3. Eat fish. Studies find that eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, which reduces risk for heart disease.

4. Seek power snacks. Instead of running to the vending machine for a late afternoon sugary snack, reach for an energy-boosting power snack of California Raisins and almonds. Mix 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/4 cup of nuts for on-the-go snacking all week long.

5. Make room for whole grains. Whole grains run the gamut from oats and barley to brown rice and bulgur. Switch up your recipes and try making a barley risotto, a bulgur pilaf or a quinoa salad.

To get started in thinking about the many tasty combinations you can mix up, here's a cholesterol-free, protein-packed recipe that will surely help boost your energy and kick start more heart healthy habits. For more recipe creations, visit www.loveyourraisins.com.

MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD

Cost per serving: $1.21

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook/stand time: 22 minutes

Chill time: at least 1 hour

Servings: 6

2 cups water

1 cup quinoa

1/3 cup apricot or mango chutney

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup each: California natural raisins and California golden raisins

1/2 cup each: garbanzo beans and diced red bell pepper

1/3 cup minced red onion

2 tablespoons each: chopped fresh parsley and mint

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and drain well. Add to boiling water; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool. Whisk together chutney, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Stir into quinoa mixture, then carefully stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories: 270, Fat: 7g, Saturated fat: 1g, Trans fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 150mg, Potassium: 115mg, Carbohydrates: 50g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 20g, Protein: 6g, Vitamin A: 15 percent, Vitamin C: 45 percent, Calcium: 4 percent, Iron: 20 percent, Calories from fat: 23 percent.

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