February is a month dedicated to the heart, in more ways than one!
As you prepare for Valentine’s Day celebrations, get the facts on why your heart deserves a whole lot of TLC! The American Heart Association has designated February as American Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease- the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States.
Kathleen A Seigel, RD, CDN, of Nutrition Babes recently outlined the facts of American Heart Month in her post “GO RED for Heart Disease.” Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, includes a variety of problems such as heart attacks, stroke, hardening of the arteries, chest pain, and high blood pressure. The good news? For most people, heart disease is preventable by knowing & controlling your risk factors, leading a fulfilling life, exercising, and healthy eating.
Paying attention to what foods you eat and what you don’t is an important aspect of improving and maintaining the health of your heart. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy are all great steps in the right direction. But there are many other things you can do to keep your heart safe today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
Keep Your Heart Healthy this month by:
-Cutting back on your sodium – replace your salt with more herbs and spices
-Getting physically activity everyday – aim for at least 30 minutes
-Limiting your alcohol intake – if you’re a woman, keep it under 1 serving; if you’re a man, keep it under 2
-Finding ways to relieve your stress – yes, this is a great excuse to go and get a massage!
-Reducing your cholesterol, trans-fat, and saturated-fat intake – READ labels and look for foods naturally low in these nutrients
-Getting more fiber! -most people don’t get enough. find it in many whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes
-Eating more fish – the American Heart Association recommends two servings of oily fish a week because they’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids
-Cutting back on sugary treats and beverages – this can help you better control your blood glucose levels
-Not smoking – or stopping if you are currently a smoker
–Maintaining or achieving a healthy weight – why wait? if you want to lose weight, start your action plan today? even losing as little as 5 or 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure
February is the perfect time to focus on improving your heart health, after all; your heart is one hard working muscle! It sends blood around your body, providing oxygen and nutrients and getting rid of waste. Like other muscles in your body, it’s important to exercise your heart to keep it strong and healthy in addition to paying attention to what you eat.
For more heart healthy tips, check out the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7.
The Intern Around the Plate,
Nutrition Babes is a blog written and maintained by Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD. Lauren is one of Around the Plate’s Nutrition Experts and is a member of thePlate Community. As a Nutrition Expert, Lauren makes eating healthy simple. Find other nutrition experts, recipe gurus, and healthy eating champions on our community blog network.