Red goes well with February, the month of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, and it’s become customary to wear red during the month. Health and nutrition experts say we need to eat red, as well, to help protect our hearts.
Discover the power of eating heart-healthy red foods during the first National Eat Red Week, February 4-10.
Why eat red? Science suggests the pigments that make up the red color in many fruits and vegetables like tart cherries and tomatoes are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
A recent study from the University of Michigan revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids), major risk factors for heart disease. With more than 80 million Americans living every day with some form of heart disease, scientists are increasingly studying the heart health impact of the foods we eat.
“We’ve always known fruits and vegetables were ‘healthy,’ but now we’re beginning to better understand precisely why,” says Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory.
“Researchers are uncovering the unique potential for plant compounds, like those in cherries, to affect multiple heart health factors. For cherries, we’re learning the benefits may come from effects on both cholesterol levels and inflammation.”
Dried cherries are certified by the American Heart Association. To help raise funds in support of the American Heart Association’s mission, for every person who visits www.ChooseCherries.com to learn more about the heart-health benefits of cherries, a donation will be made in their name (up to $5,000).
Cherries are being hailed by nutrition leaders as one of today’s hottest “Super Fruits.” According to Doctor of Public Health, registered dietitian and author of the newest edition of The SuperFoodsRx™ series, The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients, Dr. Wendy Bazilian, cherries have quite an untold story.
“Most people don’t realize tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants, as many as blueberries in fact, and are linked to many potential health benefits including reducing risk factors for heart disease,” says Dr. Bazilian. “What’s especially great about these cherries is that they’re available year-round as dried, frozen and juice. And, they’re versatile enough for just about every eating occasion from breakfast to snacks to salads.”
That’s good news for those seeking foods with health promoting properties. A recent survey revealed most respondents would prefer to eat or drink foods with health promoting properties, with heart-health topping the list, if they knew it could potentially limit the amount of medication they needed to take.
Science suggests tart cherries may have potential health benefits including reducing pain related to arthritis and gout. Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve the body’s natural sleep patterns and aid with jet lag. To learn more about cherries visit www.ChooseCherries.com to view The Cherry Nutrition Report, the first compendium of peer-reviewed studies on the benefits of cherries.
You also can find new cherry recipes, menu ideas and more information on where you can buy red tart cherry products.
The Cherry Marketing Institute is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI’s mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research.
Berry Good Oatmeal
Cherry Quick Tip: Stir dried cherries into your favorite hot cereal. Even an on-the-go packet of instant oatmeal gets a big nutritional (and taste) boost from a handful of cherries.
2 cups lowfat milk (1 percent for nutrition analysis)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup mixed dried berries and cherries (red tart cherries, blueberries and strawberries)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup lowfat milk (1 percent for nutrition analysis)
4 teaspoons chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)*
Bring 2 cups milk and the salt to boil in a medium saucepan.
Stir in dried oats; then stir in dried berries and cherries and cinnamon. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
To serve, spoon oatmeal into bowls. Pour 2 tablespoons milk over each serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and, if desired, nuts.
Yields four 1/2-cup servings.
*To toast nuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake about 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool nuts before chopping.
Nutrition Facts per 1/2-cup serving:
3 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat)
0.04 g. trans fat
40 g. carbohydrates
8 mg. cholesterol
9 g. protein
3 g. fiber
214 mg. sodium
10 percent vitamin A
20 percent calcium
6 percent iron