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There are plenty of miracle foods to follow a heart-healthy diet

Lynice Anderson
Special to Nevada Appeal

While cardiovascular disease may be the leading cause of death in both the U.S. and the world, there are actionable steps you can take to reduce your risk. One powerful and modifiable risk factor is what you choose to eat regularly.

I like to focus on what we eat most of the time. Including more plant-based options for both meals and snacks can positively impact your weight, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and overall health.

Plants provide beneficial amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while decreasing our intake of saturated fats, cholesterol and unhealthful trans-fats. In addition, eating more fiber helps you feel fuller longer which can help with both cravings and added calories.

Entering the produce aisle at your market can be overwhelming. Here are some easy tips to mix things up:

Leafy Greens

Kale is not only trendy but a super food. Raw, cooked or baked into chips you can include this power veggie in meals and snacks.

Most leafy greens are great sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables are easily added to omelets, enchiladas, pasta dishes, soups, smoothies and sandwiches.

Increasing variety often leads to more success when making dietary changes so don’t limit yourself to salads. Every day is a new day to try new foods and keep your taste buds happy.

Fruits

Fruit is nature’s fast food and is easily added throughout the day. As with most vegetables, fruits add fiber, vitamins and minerals in every serving.

I find that having healthful fruit options with me at all times makes it easier to snack and avoid less healthful packaged foods. Fruit can also satisfy a sweet tooth!

Vegetables

As with any change, exploring your vegetable options is an excellent way to increase your intake of plants throughout the day.

Colorful veggies like carrots, broccoli, beets, bell peppers, brussels sprouts and all varieties of squash are as versatile as leafy greens and can be used similarly as well as added to wraps and casseroles.

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)

Don’t forget to include the power of the legume! These tasty alternatives are low in fat, high in folate, magnesium and potassium while containing no cholesterol and boosting protein intake.

Add black, white, pinto, garbanzo and kidney beans as well as lentils to soups, stews, tacos, enchiladas, crock-pot meals and salads. Look for low-sodium goods if buying canned, or buy dried and soak your own overnight to avoid the salt.

Looking for ideas? Searching the internet is a great resource for new recipes and ideas on plant-based eating.

Lynice Anderson is director of the Healthy Heart Program at Renown Health. Go to renown.org to learn more.