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February is heart health month! People living with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. However, you can reduce your risk with healthy behaviours such as diet and exercise as well as taking medications to protect your heart as recommended by your physician.

There is lots of misinformation out there that makes it difficult to know where to start when it comes to dietary changes.   Here are a few healthy types of foods to increase in your diet to keep your heart healthy.

Beans and lentils

Research has shown that diets high in beans and lentils can help improve blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol.

How to include in your diet:

  • Add canned legumes such as chickpeas, black beans or kidney beans to chili, soups and stews

  • Add canned beans or lentils into a salad or rice bowl

  • Not a huge bean fan? Try out a dip such as hummus

Click here for more information about beans and lentils as well as recipes: Recipe

Fruits and Vegetables

Research has show that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim for three fruit servings and at least 4 servings of vegetables per day. 1 serving is generally equal to a ½ cup.

How to include in your diet:

  • Stock up your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables. These still have the same nutrients as fresh and are cost-effective and long-lasting.

  • Don’t worry about relying on pre-cut veggies or bagged salads from the grocery store. Sure it’s great to prepare everything yourself but if they help you increase your vegetable and fruit intake, then go for it! Note: these options are likely more expensive.

  • Prep ahead of time! When you have time, wash and chop up some fresh fruit or veg so it’s easy to grab when you’re busy.

Here’s an easy salad recipe to bump up your veggie intake: Recipe

Nuts and seeds

Research has shown that nuts can help lower cholesterol. These can include peanuts (a legume) and tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and pine nuts.

How to include in your diet:

  • Add into salads or cereal for an extra nutritious crunch

  • Have a handful as a snack

  • Use nut butters in smoothies, sauces or baking

Check out this recipe for walnut carrot cookies: Recipe

Whole grains

Not only can whole grains help lower cholesterol, they are also helpful for blood glucose control as well. Aim for at least half of the grains you eat to be whole grains.

How to include in your diet:

  • Swap your breads, cereals or pasta for whole-grain options. For example, try 100% whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta or steel cut oats.

  • Avoid label confusion! Multigrain is not the same! Look for the words “whole grain”

  • Experiment with different grains such as quinoa, bulgur, barley or farro

Here’s a recipe for a wheat berry and apple salad: Recipe

Want to learn more about how to keep your heart healthy? Join us for our Six Steps to a Healthy Heart workshop!  Register Here