One of the best ways to care for your heart is to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Balanced meals and snacks with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease. Making healthier food choices also goes a long way to manage an existing cardiovascular condition.
Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses for the body. They provide vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Rich in fiber, they can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. The American Heart Association recommends filling half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables. Aim to include a variety of colors to get all the nutrients you need. For inspiration, take a look at The American Heart Association’s infographic that lists fruits and vegetables by color group.
To keep fresh fruits and vegetables at your fingertips, consider starting a heart-healthy home garden. Homegrown produce is delicious, flavorful, and gratifying. A garden offers the benefits of saving you money on groceries and encourages more physical activity outdoors each day as you tend to your plants.
Tips for Starting a Home Garden
- Make A Plan: Before you put your hands in the dirt, write down your goals for the garden. Beginners give up gardening quickly when they have taken on too much. Start small and decide what is manageable.
- Pick a Location: Select an outdoor space or planter box. Container and vertical gardening are also great options when you have limited space. Take note of the plants’ growing needs including amount of light, water availability and type of soil. Six or more hours of sunshine is typically needed.
- Choose Your Produce: Consider the types of fruits and vegetables that your ‘ohana enjoys eating. Hawai’i Home & Remodeling Magazine recommends starting with herbs, cherry tomatoes, and eggplants as they are low-maintenance and typically do well in Hawaii’s climate.
- Learn from the Masters: The University of Hawai’i Master Gardeners program provides educational events and website resources, including gardening basics to support beginners. Information is also available from the National Gardening Association.
Gathering your homegrown garden harvest makes it easy to fill up your plate with healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Keep your heart strong and healthy by starting a garden this season for you and your ‘ohana to enjoy.