Since 1963, February is celebrated as American Heart Month. It is a time to reflect on our habits and decide how we can reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke. Did you know that…
- Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. You can greatly reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke through lifestyle changes.
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is a leading cause of disability, and prevents Americans from working and family activities. CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year.
The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health.
To help prevent heart disease, you can:
- Eat healthy foods. Fill up on fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories, have almost no fat but have fiber which helps to fill you up and keeps cholesterol level down.
- Be active. Walk whenever you can. Get a pedometer and count your steps and challenge yourself by adding additional steps each week.
- Watch your weight. Weight is critical to your health. Small decreases in your weight can mean health benefits – less high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Everyone has stress. Stress makes a negative impact on our overall health. Learn how to manage your stress.
- Make small changes. Every change brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
Here are some super heart healthy foods and ways to include them in your diet:
- Add nuts such as walnuts and almonds to your diet. Sprinkle some on yogurt, add to your main dish and add to your breakfast cereal. They contain good fats and lots of fiber – but they are also high in calories, so watch the amount you eat.
- Add high fiber, low fat beans whenever you can. Rinse and drain canned beans to reduce sodium in the can. Add beans to pasta, rice, any main dish for heart health.
- Add fish such as salmon to your diet . Salmon is heart healthy because of the type of fat it contains. Eat fish whenever possible!
- Add colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet – blueberries, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, red peppers, broccoli – all heart healthy – low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Fiber – Fiber can help keep our cholesterol levels in the healthy range – beans, fruits, vegetables, brown rice, whole grains all contain good sources of fiber.
Remember, small steps can make big changes. Keep practicing adding healthy foods, adding more steps and keeping your weight in check. You will reap the benefits of a healthy heart!