Heart Health. An In Great Health eNewsletter from Avera.
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Thank you for subscribing to Heart Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with useful information about cardiac care and prevention. We believe a healthy lifestyle starts with a strong heart. To learn more about our services and community events, or to find a physician, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff


Want to protect your heart? Eat more berries and drink more tea. That will help you consume more flavonols, which are antioxidant compounds that protect you against heart disease.

Unfortunately, most people aren't getting enough flavonols in their diets, says Joanne Shearer, registered dietitian and director of Food and Nutrition Services at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. It's easy, though, to incorporate more flavonol into your daily meals. Besides blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and fresh-brewed green or black tea, flavonols can be found in peppers, tomatoes, red onions and beets. Just half a cup of berries, for example, is enough to receive the heart-protective benefits from flavonols. Fresh foods are best, but canned or dried foods also contain flavonols.

Flavonols lower inflammation in the arteries and lower blood pressure. They also fight heart disease by protecting your cholesterol from being damaged. Once cholesterol is damaged, it can stick to artery walls.

"Oxidation, or damage to the cholesterol, is the first step toward heart disease, so what these foods do is prevent heart disease by providing this kind of protection," Joanne says.

Dark chocolate and red wine also contains flavonols, but consume both in moderation; one ounce of dark chocolate is a reasonable daily amount, and some physicians recommend a glass of red wine.

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Fruits and vegetables provide key vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep you healthy. But many people struggle to get enough in their diets. So what are some simple ways to consume more fruits and vegetables every day?

Dietitian Nikki Ver Steeg of the Avera Heart Hospital says that not eating enough fruits and vegetables is a common problem, but their nutritional value is especially important for cardiovascular health.

"One way that we like to teach people to increase their intake is to have a fruit with each meal and a vegetable at lunch and supper," Nikki says. "This provides five servings daily, which is a recommended amount."

Try a new cooking technique to make vegetables more appetizing. Sauté vegetables in extra-virgin olive oil, or cook vegetable kabobs on the grill. For heart-healthy recipe ideas, click here. Many Avera hospitals also offer personalized nutritional counseling. To find a program near you, call your local Avera facility.

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Heart Health is one in a series of In Great Health™ eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.