As we begin the first week of September there are often many changes occurring around us. Children are heading back to school, the temperatures outside are getting lower, and days are becoming shorter. With these external changes occurring, one  that shouldn’t  is the amount of fruits and vegetables that we eat. It’s quite common to adopt an unhealthy diet as we begin to move ourselves indoors, but instead most of us should actually be eating more as about 90% of us are not getting the proper daily amount of vegetables.

For this reason, September is Fruit and Vegetables month as it aims to highlight the importance of a diet that is full of fruits and vegetables and the benefits they contribute to your health. Which vegetables and fruits are the most heart healthy though?

To help, we’ve shared below some of the best fruits and vegetables that you can have for a heart-healthy diet, as well as when they’re in season.

Heart Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

Berries

Berries such as strawberries and blueberries are believed to carry antioxidants that help to decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. This is attributed to the benefit of compounds known as anthocyanins, and flavonoids.

When they’re available: 

  • Strawberries: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Blueberries: July, August, and September
  • Cranberries:  September,  October and November
  • Raspberries: July, August, September, and  October

Potatoes

Although potatoes can be more challenging to your heart healthy dining, if you don’t deep fry them, they can be extremely good for your heart. They’re rich in potassium and high in fibre (if the skin is left on), which again, can help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

When they’re available: year round

Tomatoes

Similar to potatoes, tomatoes are high in heart-healthy potassium. Plus they’re a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that may help to get rid of “bad ” cholesterol, keep blood vessels open and lower heart attack risk.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: year round
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Broccoli, Spinach and Kale

When it comes to your heart health, you can’t go wrong with vegetables. Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach or kale can give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and can free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fibre and contain lots of vitamins and minerals.

When they’re available: 

  • Broccoli: June, July, August, September, and October
  • Spinach: May, June, July, August, September, and October
  • Kale: June, July, August, September, and October

Avocado

These soft, tasty fruits will provide your body and heart with plenty of healthy fats. They’re composed of monounsaturated fats, high in antioxidants, and also contain potassium to help lower heart disease factors.

When they’re available: (commercially) generally year round

Asparagus

One of the most important heart-healthy ingredients that are found in asparagus is vitamin B6. This vitamin can lower homocysteine, a form of amino acid that has been linked to heart disease.

When they’re available: May and June

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers contain folate, another nutrient that can reduce homocysteine.

When they’re available: 

  • Greenhouse: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December
  • Field: July, August, September, and October

Carrots

Carrots are rich in carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can combat free radicals that cause heart disease.

When they’re available: February, March, April, May,  July, August, September, October, November, and December

Garlic

Garlic contains phytochemicals that boost immunity and protect the heart against diseases.

When they’re available: February, July, August, September, October, November, and December

Onions

Onions are a rich source of sulphur-containing phytochemicals. These phytochemicals can reduce cholesterol levels, and therefore, prevent heart disease.

When they’re available: year round

If you’re interested in learning about other heart-healthy foods, check out our post on Ten Essential Foods For A Heart-Healthy Diet; And if you’d like to know when other fruits and vegetables are available, check out Foodland Ontario’s page.

As students head back to school there is often a lot to occupy their time during the first few weeks of the semester. They’re catching up with friends, joining clubs, and beginning their studies. All of these activities are highly important while progressing through high school, but one that should be added is learning about how to save a life.

To help your child get back into learning mode, as well as learning about the proper procedures for saving a life, we recommend that they sign up to the Mikey Young At Heart App. Now is the perfect time to do so, as they won’t be overwhelmed with a course schedule, as well as the many other activities that occupy kids when they head back to school.

The app which was created to provide your child with an understanding of CPR procedures and how to use an AED, is taught through instructional videos that they can view at their own pace. Not only is the app easy to use, the hours accumulated on it also count towards their volunteer hours that they will need to earn during the semester.

The best part about the app is that you can access it anywhere, so whether your child is at home relaxing, or studying with friends; they can keep learning.

Don’t just take our word for how great the Mikey Young at Heart app is, ask our friend Kayley Baker, who this past year helped to save the life of an elderly man in downtown Toronto thanks to her training on the app.

I was walking in downtown Toronto on Labour Day Monday with my grandmother when we noticed people making a fuss. There was a man on the ground and he was blue in colour. Automatically I knew something was wrong!

My grandmother grabbed my backpack and I knelt down beside him to perform CPR. I got to just over 30 compressions and he started to make a wheezing noise. There were people standing around but nobody else knew how to properly perform CPR.

I knew CPR because I went through the Mikey Young At Heart App. Going through the videos and quizzes gave me the confidence to act immediately and without fear. I knew what to do and I knew if I did it, this man would have a better chance of survival.”

Learn more about Kayley’s story here.

Each year in Ontario, children and teens are among the 6,500 people who experience Sudden Cardiac Arrest. If administering CPR or an AED during an emergency like the one Kayley experienced, a person has a much higher chance of surviving. Sign up to the Mikey Young At Heart app today to learn how it can benefit your life and others.

When thinking of the term “exercising” we often think of team sports, or something that we can do as an individual, like running. The thought of ‘family’ doesn’t really come to mind, but often our families are where we first learned the basics of exercising. Kicking the soccer ball in the backyard, doing chores around the house, riding a bike or simply going for a walk around the block. These small activities laid the foundation for many of the exercises we continue to do throughout our lives.

Although many of us share memories of doing activities like these growing up, organizations like ParticipACTION are noticing that there is now a drop off in activity by youth. According to their study, only 9% of Canadian kids ages 5 to 11 accumulate the recommended guideline of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, at least six days a week.

Take steps now to combat this and it will be easier for you and your children to retain a heart-healthy lifestyle over each of your lives. There are many activities that you as a family can do together, and to help provide you with some ideas of fun things to do, we’re sharing 8 of our favorites.

 

Fun Exercises To Do With Your Family

Walk or a Hike

Going for a simple walk around the neighborhood can be a great activity for any age. If you’re looking for something more challenging, organizing a hike with your family can be a great way to maintain your physical fitness while seeing more of the great outdoors. Look at national parks in your area and make a day or weekend of it! Just make sure that you’re properly prepared if you do plan to go out into the wilderness.

Cycling

Families with members of all ages can definitely enjoy the benefits of cycling. The exercise can actually be better for older members of your family as it usually has less impact on the muscles and joints. Organize a bike ride around your neighborhood with your family and see the many parts of your community.

Swimming

Especially during the summer months, swimming can be a great activity for the whole family to enjoy and cool off. Many municipalities offer plenty of family time swims, as well as free swims at pools. If you’re really adventurous, take your family out for a beach day. There are a wide variety of beaches in Ontario, so get out there and explore!

Organize Family Play Times

This sounds super simple, because it is! Simply organize some fun games or sports that you can do in a park or in a backyard that will get you moving. Common games we love to play include, soccer, tag, and water fights. Want to get really creative? Invite extended family or friends from the neighborhood. They may be able to introduce your family to a new game or activity that you may not have been aware of.

Create An Activity Pack

Have some downtime with your family? Build a backpack of basic activity gear with items such as balls or other catch-and-throw objects (like a Frisbee), a jump rope, sidewalk chalk, pylons (to serve as targets or goal posts), a Dyna Band or any other equipment that suits your family’s interests. This pack will help save you on slower days.

Go To The Playground

The Playground offers endless opportunities of fun to be had. Ask your kids about fun games that they like to play with their friends during recess such as grounders, tag, hopscotch, monkey bars and 4-square. This can be difficult for some members of the family, as playgrounds aren’t really meant for adults and can be difficult to maneuver.

Yoga

Yoga is beneficial for anyone at any age. It allows you to center yourself and to stretch out many areas of your body to stay flexible and mobile. The best part is that you can do Yoga anywhere, so whether you’re at the beach, in the backyard, or at home, you’ll always have a space to do this great exercise.

If you would like more ideas on how to stay active with your family, we highly encourage you to go and check out the Participaction’s site. They have a plethora of programs and ideas to help keep you active.

 

For many years heart disease was believed to be something that generally only affected men as it was (and still is) the main contributor to premature deaths for men. New research that came out this year from the Heart and Stroke Foundation has found that heart disease is also the #1 contributor to premature death in women as well.

Because of the long-held belief that heart disease primarily affects men, women are often left unaware of the threat. In fact, most Canadian women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Women who have diabetes, come from certain ethnic backgrounds or are menopausal are even more at risk.

Many of these risk factors for women can be minimized by looking after certain aspects of one’s life. Below are some tips that will help reduce your risks and resources that you can use to help improve your heart health.

Tips to Improve your Heart Health

Sleep

Sleep is not just downtime. It’s when your heart gets a break, as your blood pressure and heart rate slow down. If you don’t sleep enough, your body constantly produces adrenaline and stress hormones to keep you awake. That means your blood pressure and heart rate doesn’t slow down as well, and that hurts your heart.

Most people need to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to be well rested, so aim for sleeping that much. Anything less than 6 hours tends to increase your risks.

Being Active

Doing any kind of physical activity, whether it be walking, swimming or running,  for 30 minutes each day is commonly recommended by doctors to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure and helps you lose weight, which overall helps reduce your risk.

As mentioned in the becoming heart healthy section of our site, if you’re just getting back into exercise and are starting off with walking, it’s most beneficial to lose weight by walking for 60 minutes a day, most days of the week to lose those extra inches.

Reduce The Amount You Drink and Focus On Healthy Eating

It can be alright to have a drink occasionally, but having a drink or two a day can increase the risks of heart disease. Although there can be some benefits of alcohols, like wine with antioxidants, it is generally better to reduce the amount you have as it can lead to gaining bad cholesterol.

Eating healthy is also essential to keeping a healthy heart. Reducing foods with trans fats and with lots of sugar helps to reduce your risk. A good rule of thumb is to focus on eating more plants and fewer animals.  Fortunately, we have many heart-healthy recipes that you can use towards developing a heart-healthy diet.

Quit Smoking

Smoking can create blood clots, decreases your levels of good cholesterol, makes it harder to exercise and can raise your blood pressure temporarily, none of which is good for your heart.

If you live in Ontario, here’s a link to some resources that can help you to quit smoking.

Resources

Heart And Stroke Foundation

As they launched a major study into the effects of heart disease on women, they have many great resources on what to look out for and how to improve your health.

Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre

Recently hosted in Ottawa this past April, the Heart Health Summit is a way for women and health practitioners to talk about the risk of heart disease and ways to help prevent it. This year’s conference has already passed, but the centre also hosts many workshops and classes throughout the year. Whether you’re a researcher, a health practitioner or someone who’s looking to learn more, they’re a great resource.

Participaction

They’re a wonderful resource for learning about and trying new exercises or sports. They not only have great resources for adults, but also for kids on what you can do to stay fit throughout the year.

 

We’re happy to announce that another life was recently saved thanks to a MIKEY defibrillator. They were saved thanks to the efforts of the Meaford Fire Department whom we donated a MIKEY to a short while ago.
 
It’s exciting that we found out about this save, through the new “Report a Save” button on the Mikey website. If you know of any saves with a MIKEY defibrillator, please reach out to us.