You probably have heard that your food and fitness choices affect your heart health. You may have made plans to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy.

Stay healthy and save money in 2021

Temptations are all around us, though. We might be tempted by the treats available at work, community events and near the cash register at the grocery store. Ads on TV and Facebook tempt us to buy “easy-to-make” foods that are not necessarily easy on our hearts.

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Focus on Mindful Eating

Researchers are studying “mindful eating.” People who eat mindfully focus on what is going on at the moment and are not distracted by other things. These ideas help people make choices that promote good health.

1. Before you grab a snack, rate your hunger on a 10-point scale (1 = not very hungry; 10 = very hungry). Are you really hungry, or could you be bored or tired?

  • Try having a glass of water or cup of tea. You might be thirsty.

2. Arrange your cupboards to inspire healthful menus.

  • Place brown rice and canned beans in front.

  • If some foods, such as chips and candy, are too tempting to have in your house, leave them at the grocery store.

3. Make nutritious snack choices “easy choices.”

  • Put whole fruit such as apples, oranges or bananas in your “candy bowl.”

  • Place cut-up fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator ready to grab for snacks. Consider placing them in grab-and-go plastic bags.

4. Slow down and enjoy your food. You might put on some calm music to slow your pace.

  • Experience the flavor and texture of your food. Music also is relaxing.

5. Turn off electronics (TV, phones, tablets) during mealtime.

  • Avoid multitasking while you eat. You may eat far more food than you plan.

Check out the heart health information on the Nourish and Exercise Your Body website. Visit for more information.

Question: I have heard that I should be sure that I get enough potassium in my diet. Why is potassium needed and what foods contain it?

Potassium has many jobs in our body. It helps keep our heart beating and our muscles moving and allows our nerves to fire. Having enough potassium in our diet may keep our blood pressure at a healthy level.

In fact, by cutting back on sodium in our diet and increasing potassium-rich foods, we may protect ourselves from a stroke. However, do not take a potassium supplement unless your health-care provider recommends it.

To get enough potassium, aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and have plenty of low-fat dairy as recommended by MyPlate.

Some of the best sources of potassium are sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans (pinto, lima, kidney, split peas), yogurt, potatoes, bananas, oranges, orange juice, strawberries, raisins, dates, spinach and milk.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, NOURISH newsletter, Issue 25. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email