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February is American Heart Month

Your food choices can make a positive difference in your heart health as well as your overall health.

Do you have risk factors for heart disease? Consider the following questions.

* Do you smoke?

* Do you have high blood pressure? (140/90 or higher)

* Do you have high blood cholesterol?

* Do you have diabetes?

* Are you overweight (according to your health -care provider)?

* Are you physically inactive?

* Do you have a family history of heart disease? For example, did your father or brother have a heart attack before age 55? Did your mother or sister have one before 65?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be more likely to get heart disease. Your food choices can make a positive difference in your heart health as well as your overall health. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, too.

On the Menu: heart-healthy foods!

Consider these ideas* as you plan your menus. Compare nutrition facts labels on food products, too.

Breakfast: fresh fruit, small glass of 100 percent citrus juice, low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt, whole-grain bread products and cereals, omelet made with egg whites or egg substitute

Beverages: fat-free milk, water with lemon, flavored sparkling water, juice spritzer (half fruit juice and half sparkling water), iced tea, reduced-sodium tomato juice

Breads: whole-grain breads and crackers; limit the butter or margarine you add

Entrees: skinless poultry, fish, shellfish, extra lean meat, vegetable dishes, or pasta with red sauce or vegetables; limit your use of butter, margarine and salt at the table

Salads: romaine lettuce, spinach, other dark greens, other fresh vegetables, chickpeas and kidney beans; choose oil-based instead of creamy dressings

Side dishes: vegetables and grain products, including whole-grain rice or noodles; add salsa or low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream or butter to potatoes

Dessert: fresh fruit; fat-free frozen yogurt, sherbet or fruit sorbet

* Source: Adapted from “Your Guide to A Healthy Heart,” a publication of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute available at Question: I have heard that “soluble fiber” helps fight heart disease. What foods contain soluble fiber?

Eating foods high in soluble fiber may help reduce your LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol level when consumed with an overall healthful diet. Soluble fiber is found in oatmeal, barley, dry edible beans (such as pinto or kidney beans), pulses (such as chickpeas, split peas and lentils), carrots, apples and oranges.

Excerpted from “” For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, EFNEP/FNP Education Assistant, NDSU Extension Service Stuts- man County, 116½ First Street East, Jamestown, ND. You can reach me at 252-9030 or luella.morehouse@