Eat your fruits and vegetables

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Take care of your heart. A survey by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that 90 percent of Americans know the risk of heart disease is linked to high blood cholesterol levels and eating high-fat diets. There are several ways to reduce fat in the diet without making major sacrifices.

- Eat five fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are important for good health. By increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, you can decrease the amount of fatty foods in your diet.

- Buy low-fat dairy products. Dairy foods are important for calcium and protein, but they can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead of regular dairy products, buy skim milk or 1 percent fat milk, non-fat or low-fat yogurt and low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt. Purchase low-fat or fat-free sour cream and cream cheese.

- Limit servings of meat to six ounces each day. Choose lean cuts of meat and cut off visible fat from the edges of the meat. Trim fat from poultry too. Choose broiled or baked fish more often.

- Choose healthy snacks rather than high-fat sweets. Try reduced-fat crackers or baked tortilla chips for something crunchy. Choose a bagel rather than a doughnut. Try non-fat yogurt, sorbet, or frozen juice bars rather than regular ice cream.

- Keep healthy foods in the pantry. Stock your shelves and refrigerator with heart-healthy condiments. Too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Use herbs and spices to replace salt for flavor. Keep some of these foods on hand for extra flavor: spicy mustard, flavored vinegar, minced garlic, onions, fresh lemons.

Sometimes it's hard to give up old favorites like fried fish and macaroni and cheese, which contain a good deal of calories from fat, so focus on cooking with the healthy fats.

Here is your recipe to try:

ABC's of Vegetables

1 cup asparagus

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup carrot slices

1 cup spinach (chopped)

11-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup

2 tablespoons onions (finely chopped)

1 teaspoon thyme

1/2 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Layer asparagus broccoli, carrots, and spinach in a baking dish coated with vegetable cooking spray. Blend remaining ingredients. Pour over vegetables. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 8 servings.