“Nutrition Newbie” is a series focused on basic nutrition information and tips.

This Valentine’s Day, as you fill out cards and gather sweet goodies and flowers for your loved ones, don’t forget to declare love for your own heart by promising to eat foods that keep your heart healthy.

I asked our Community Nutritionists what their recommendations are for heart-healthy foods and they said to for sure include fruits and vegetables that contain fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and few calories.

Here are a couple of super easy ways to get those fruits and veggies into your diet:

  • Top a bowl of steaming oatmeal with fresh fruit chunks for breakfast
  • Put a few handfuls of chopped veggies with some low sodium vegetable or chicken broth for a satisfying soup
  • Fruits and vegetables can also be used to make heart-healthy beverages that are yummy alternatives to sugary drinks. Add slices of cucumber, orange or lemon to a glass of water to make a satisfying thirst-quencher. It really can’t get any easier than that.

    Sugary drinks increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. Santa Clara County Public Health Department offers these recipes for delicious cold-weather beverages that are healthier than sugary beverages (these recipes are also available in Spanish):

    Tea Latte
    – Choose your favorite flavor of tea
    – Steep tea bag in hot water for 2-5 minutes
    – Add plain non-fat or 1% milk, soy milk, or almond milk

    Cinnamon Vanilla Milk (“Horchata”)
    – Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla exact to plain non-fat or 1% milk
    – Sprinkle as much cinnamon as desired and stir
    – Serve warm or add all ingredients and ice into a blender for a blended drink

    Click here for more ideas on how to include fresh, canned and frozen produce in your meals and snacks, courtesy of Fruits and Veggies-More Matters.

    ***Read past Nutrition Newbie posts!