“You are what you eat.” We’ve all heard this seemingly outlandish statement before, but might there be some truth to it? When it comes to your heart health, experts say yes, what you eat plays an integral role.

FACT: Heart healthy eating combined with physical activity can help reduce cardiovascular disease by lowering unhealthy cholesterol and decreasing your risk for diabetes and obesity.

“The way I look at exercising and eating healthy is that it’s free and it treats many medical conditions, not just heart disease,” says Dr. Geetha Pinto, cardiologist at Washington Adventist Hospital. “So it’s the best medication we in medicine have to offer.”

So what does a heart healthy diet look like? Aurielle James, cardiac dietitian at Washington Adventist Hospital explains that it’s important to get plenty of antioxidants through rich, colorful fruits and vegetables. This helps lower blood pressure. Potassium and fiber are important too, which you can get through whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables.

Despite the numerous benefits, we know it’s not always easy to make healthy eating decisions. The good news is, you’re not alone and there’s plenty of help out there.

To help kick off the New Year and empower community members to start eating healthy, Washington Adventist Hospital held Heart Smart: A Free Heart Healthy Cooking & Screening Event on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The event provided participants with heart-health screenings, interactive cooking demonstrations, food sampling, heart-health education and resources. Check out photos from the event here.

Heart Smart may be over, but there’s plenty of ways to get in on the heart health action this year. Be sure to join us for Adventist HealthCare’s 4th Annual Love Your Heart Expo on Feb. 9 from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Westfield Montgomery Mall!

Tell us, how are you going to get Heart Smart in 2013? For more heart health tips and resources visit www.TrustedHeartCare.com.