Celebrating American Heart Health Month
by Celina Paras, MSc, RDN, LD
Choose Fruits, Nature’s Sweet Treat
Fruits are naturally sweet and offer vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. On the other hand, the sweetness in most candies comes from lots of added sugars. These added sugars provide empty calories, meaning they don’t add any nutritional value. Some examples of fun and healthful options include: rainbow fruit skewers, heart-shaped fruit pops, and fruit smoothies.
Snack on Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide many nutrients including heart-healthy fats and protein. The protein and dietary fats from nuts and seeds make us feel full faster. Choose trail mix, cocoa powder dusted almonds, or apple slices with peanut butter.
Swap Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate
Chocolate comes from cacao seeds, which have flavonoids with antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate has more cocoa and much less added sugar than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate containing 70 percent cocoa or higher provides the most health benefits. Dark chocolate may be a bit bitter for children, try choosing one with dried fruits for natural sweetness, or make chocolate covered strawberries.
Like with all Foods, Moderation is Key
Enjoying all foods in moderation is the key to maintaining a healthful balance. Not all foods provide the same calories and nutritional value. Focusing on eating more whole foods such as fruits, nuts, and seeds, and less on highly processed foods such as sweets, baked goods, and sugar-sweetened beverages, are ways to satisfy your sweet tooth while providing nutritionally dense foods.