February is American Heart Month, a time to “go red,” “wear red” and “eat red” in the name of heart health. Among the major supporters flying the red flag for heart health this time of year are the Campbell Soup Company and the Cherry Marketing Institute.
Campbell’s, a long-time supporter of the Go Red For Women movement, offers a number of ways for people to get involved, which may be found at GoRed.
- Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer shares helpful tips for creating a “heart smart” grocery cart
- Fashion designer Lisa Perry created three red dresses for singer/heart disease survivor Toni Braxton. America is invited to vote on its favorite by visiting GoRed between now and January 30, 2008. For every vote cast, Campbell’s will donate $1 to the AHA, and Braxton will kick off Heart Month wearing the winning dress
- You can purchase a limited-edition Campbell’s Art of the Heart T-shirt to support Go Red For Women
Fighting Heart Disease by Eating Red
While many studies have recommended cutting back on consumption of red meat, there are lots of “red” foods that health and nutrition experts say will protect our hearts. Americans are being encouraged to discover the power of eating heart-healthy red foods during the first-ever National Eat Red Week, Feb. 4-10.
Science now suggests that the pigments that make up the red color in many fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes and tart cherries, are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
A recent study from the University of Michigan revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids), major risk factors for heart disease.
“We’ve always known fruits and vegetables were ‘healthy,’ but now we’re beginning to better understand precisely why,” said Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. “Researchers are uncovering the unique potential for plant compounds, like those in cherries, to affect multiple heart health factors. For cherries, we’re learning the benefits may come from effects on both cholesterol levels and inflammation.”
Cherries are being hailed as one of the new “super fruits.” According to Doctor of Public Health and Registered Dietician Wendy Bazilian, “Cherries are loaded with antioxidants, as many as blueberries in fact. They are linked to many potential health benefits including reducing risk factors for heart disease. What’s especially great about these cherries is that they’re available year-round as dried, frozen and juice. And, they’re versatile enough for just about every eating occasion from breakfast to snacks to salads.”
Scientists also suggest that tart cherries may have additional potential health benefits including reducing pain related to arthritis and gout. Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve the body’s natural sleep patterns and aid with jet lag.
Adds new meaning to “life is just a bowl of cherries,” doesn’t it?
Make a donation just by learning more about cherries. To help raise funds in support of the American Heart Association’s mission, for every person who visits www.choosecherries.com to learn more about the heart-health benefits of cherries, a donation will be made in their name (up to $5,000).