Hi, this is Marsha Morris Sanders from Project Worth/Grow Appalachia.  I recently did a presentation on heart healthy eating at our last meeting.  I would like to share the things I have learned with you.  Residents of Kentucky have a more than average incidence of heart disease.  Some of the risk factors of heart disease are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes

It is my opinion, based on personal experience, that genetics plays the biggest role in this horrible disease.  There are things that we can do to reduce our chances of having heart problems.  The most important things we can do is to exercise regularly and eat healthy foods in moderation.  It is very important to learn to read food labels.  Some words to look for are:  low sodium, low cholesterol, and low fat.  Be careful with foods that claim to be low fat because they sometimes add extra sodium and/or carbohydrates to offset the loss of taste from the fat.  The most important things to look for in the food labels are:

  • Carbohydrates- 15 carbs are a serving.  You can have 60 per meal.
  • Cholesterol- 300 milligrams per day is ideal.
  • Sodium- 2,000 milligrams per day is encouraged.

Sodium is the hardest thing to control.  All processed and canned foods have very high sodium.  If you buy vegetables at the grocery store, frozen ones are healthier.  Canned vegetables should be washed if you buy them.  You should not add salt to foods you have already cooked due the already high sodium content.  It is better to cook with herbs and other flavorings besides salt.

You should eat lean meats such as, fish and poultry.  Do not eat a lot of sandwich meats.  Instead, buy lean chicken or turkey and shred it for sandwiches.  Limit your bread and pasta intake.

The best foods for a healthy heart are fresh fruits and veggies. Our green vegetables have lots of good vitamin K which will help with blood clotting.  However, if you are on blood thinner for any reason, you must eat the same amount each day because the Vitamin K can interfere with the blood thinner.  The more we eat from our fresh organic gardens, the better it will be for a happy, healthy heart.  So, keep gardening for a healthy lifestyle. You get both the healthy foods and exercise necessary!  Enjoy your gardens!