Heart and Vascular Health Celebrate July 4: Healthy Red, White, and Blue Foods By Heart and Vascular Institute, July 2, 2016 Looking for red, white, and blue foods for your July 4 celebration? By choosing fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables and making a few simple swaps, you can plan a festive and healthy gathering. Colorful Foods for Heart Health When it comes to heart-healthy food, a colorful variety is best. Eating different types of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products can give your body the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to keep working the right way. And a heart-healthy diet can help you keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar in check, lowering your risk for heart disease. Summer is a great time for colorful eating, with so many fresh fruits and vegetables in season. From corn and tomatoes to berries and peaches, your local farmer’s market is a great place to start when planning healthy July 4 meals. Beyond the produce aisle, you can make simple, healthier choices that lighten up your main dishes, sides, and desserts. Stop by a local farmer's market to find in-season, colorful fresh fruits and veggies. Click To Tweet Ramp up the Reds Set a bowl of cherries or red grapes on your picnic table for snacking. Toss raspberries and strawberries into fruit salad. Slice up watermelon for a refreshing side dish. Add beets and radishes to your favorite leafy green salad. Serve tomatoes for snacking and sandwich toppings. Remember those red peppers for your veggie tray. Choose the Right Whites You probably know that red and blue fruits and vegetables pack in plenty of nutrients, but what about white foods? It’s important to remember to pick the right whites, limiting foods processed with white flour and sugar, like cakes, cookies, and pies. Tip: Pick the right whites and switch desserts prepared with white sugar for white peaches. Click To Tweet Opt for lean protein like fish or white meat chicken for your main dish instead of hamburgers and hot dogs. Make a healthier fruit or vegetable dip with low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Choose low-fat or fat-free cheese for sandwiches. Add cauliflower to your veggie tray. Grill white corn for a healthier side dish. Serve white peaches or nectarines for a refreshing dessert. Get the Blues (and Purples) Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant that can help prevent blood clots, as well as vitamin C and other nutrients that support overall health. Make patriotic fruit skewers with blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. Add blackberries to fruit salad. Set out a bowl of Concord grapes for snacking. Grill eggplant, leaving the skin on. Toss purple cabbage into your favorite salad. Serve plums for dessert. Looking for more heart-healthy recipes? Check out our blog post on 6 fun heart-healthy recipes today! To learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).