Heart health begins with fruits and vegetables. A study from the University of Toronto found that plant-based diets rich in fruits and vegetables were as effective as the leading statin medications for lowering cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. Produce raises the good cholesterol (HDLs), lowers both total and LDL cholesterol (the bad guys), and even reduces another marker of heart disease called homocysteine. The more colorful fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your risk, with people who eat 10 or more a day having up to a 55% lower risk for heart disease compared to people who eat less than 3 servings a day. If that wasn’t enough, produce also is one of the best defenses against cancer. Researchers estimate that at least 35% of cancer deaths could be avoided by diet alone, with fruits and vegetables leading the pack in cancer prevention.

Let’s make this as easy on you as possible. You need at least 9 servings daily. That’s as simple as a sliced banana on your cereal and a glass of Tropicana 100% Orange Juice at breakfast. For lunch, a spinach salad topped with grilled chicken, a slice of French bread, and a bowlful of watermelon chunks, which are rich in heart-healthy compounds, such as arginine, citrulline, and lycopene. For dinner, salmon, instant brown rice, a microwaved sweet potato, and a salad made with Fresh Express lettuce. Desserts can be a clamshell of Driscoll’s berries or a baked apple. Aim for 2 servings of fruits or vegetables at every meal and at least one serving at every snack. Your heart, health, and waistline will thank you for it!