Blueberries for Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Influence Heart Health
A healthy lifestyle includes the following:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Getting enough physical activity.
- Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco.
- Limiting alcohol use.
The first step in choosing healthful meal and snack options that help you avoid heart disease and its complications is to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Also eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower your blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes.
Blueberries for Heart Health
Many foods are beneficial in fighting heart disease: lots of fruits and vegetables, wild salmon, walnuts, whole grains (such as oatmeal), red wine, and green tea. Three foods that are helpful, (but may surprise you) are blueberries, dark chocolate and coffee.
Studies show that eating lots of berries can reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Berries are rich in antioxidants, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contributes to the development of heart disease.
Blueberries can be worked into your diet at any time of year. The following recipe offers a fresh and unique way to sprinkle some heart health benefits over your lunch or dinner. Baby spinach, peppery arugula, sour-sweet blueberries, crunchy pecans, briny feta, and a tangy lemon-balsamic vinaigrette match up in this vibrant dish. Pair it with grilled chicken, pork chops, or fish.
The blueberries are the stars here, after all, so select the best ones you can find. Look for ripe berries that have a dark blue color and a juicy “pop” when eaten. If you can’t find fresh berries, you can substitute frozen ones in a pinch. Simply thaw the blueberries under room temperature water, then pat dry with paper towels
Fresh Blueberry Salad
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups spinach and arugula salad mix
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (about 1/2 pint)
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add spinach and arugula mix, blueberries, pecans, and feta cheese, tossing gently to combine.
Growing Your Own Blueberries
Your Cooperative Extension has a wealth of information on how to grow, maintain, and harvest blueberries. Please explore the following links or give us a call with specific questions.