February is Heart & Stroke Awareness Month, and according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented if you follow healthy life habits — such as eating a balanced diet and being physically active.
One way to eat right for heart health is by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, and you know what that means: bring on BC blueberries! A 125 mL (1/2 cup) serving of blueberries is all it takes to make up one of the 7 to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables (for adults) recommended by the Canadian Food Guide.
The best part of this is that BC blueberries are available all year round and can be found in the frozen section of all retail stores during the fall and winter months. “Because of their high antioxidant levels, blueberries are considered one of the leading super fruits by researchers in North America, who are always sharing more and more health benefits from this tasty berry,” says Anju Gill, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council. “Blueberries continue to be one of the easiest and best choices to include in a healthy diet.”
From a fitness perspective, Vancouver-based fitness experts agree that BC blueberries, powered by nature, are a great heart-healthy food to have on hand.
“I like to snack on fresh blueberries just by themselves,” says Darnelle Moore, co-founder and fitness trainer at Vancouver’s Eastside Fitness. “My kids like to add them to their cereal and smoothies. And in the winter I use frozen berries and make crumbles to remind us what yummy, local fruit tastes like!”
We asked Darnelle what her tips are for Heart & Stroke Awareness Month. She says “one of the simplest things you can do for your heart is to walk briskly for 30 minutes per day, every day! The Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends a minimum of 150 mins of moderate cardio activity per week, so make a habit out of walking to work, walking on your lunch hour, or taking a walk after dinner. Or do all three!”
Johanna Ward, fitness trainer at The It factor, notes, “the more you move, the more you want to move. Exercise affects our physical self and our mental & emotional states,” she continues. “When you find an activity that you enjoy, anything from walking to dancing to extreme ironing (yes, that's a real sport!), you are more likely to stick with, do it more often, and actually look forward to it! A happy heart is a healthy heart.”
Once you have worked up an appetite with these body and heart-friendly moves, head to bcblueberry.com/recipes/featured-recipes for a variety of tasty heart-healthy recipe ideas.