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Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Though you can't see it, your heart needs special attention to stay healthy. Whether your heart is healthy depends a lot on the way you eat and how much you move your body.

It does your heart good when you eat foods that are lower in fat like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, cold cereal, whole wheat bread or any beans, including pinto beans and kidney beans.

Eating too much of two kinds of fats called "saturated" fat and "trans" fat can hurt your heart. Over time, eating too much of these fats may cause your arteries to clog up. This makes it hard for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body.

Some foods with saturated fat are hamburger, whole milk, sausage, bacon, ice cream, cheese and butter. Some foods with trans fat are some crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods and the hard kind of margarine.  It's good to cut back on saturated fat by asking your parents to do stuff like making burgers with lean ground beef and buying fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. It's also good to eat as little trans fat as you can. One way to do this is to check the Nutrition Facts label on the foods you eat to see how many grams of trans fat are in a serving—the lower the better and "0" is best!

But don't think fat is a total bad guy! We need to eat some fat to be healthy. It's good to eat healthy fats from foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and some fish (like salmon and mackerel). The fats in these foods can be an important part of a heart healthy diet.

Did you know that your heart is a muscle? Doing fun things like running, jumping, dancing or riding your bike really fast are healthy for your heart and for the rest of your body, too. Your heart will thank you if you move like this every day.

Keep your heart healthy with these tasty recipes:
Applesaucy Oatmeal
Brewed Monkey Brain Stew
Pleasingly Pink Salsa Swirly

Reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Panel, 2006