February is all about hearts! Before we all become consumed with chocolate hearts and heart shaped cards, we wanted to remind everyone that February isn’t just about Valentine’s Day. February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness about heart disease and how to prevent it.
There are a few steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. Here are a few steps to live a heart healthy lifestyle:
Eat a Healthy Diet
Try to eat foods low in saturated fats, Trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. Limit your sodium intake to help lower your blood pressure. Limit how much sugar you consume to help prevent or control diabetes and keep your weight in check. Try to eat an overall healthy diet that incorporates:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy products
- Skinless poultry and fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils
When making your favorite dishes, consider how you can modify the ingredients to make it more “heart healthy.” Don’t know where to start? Check out some delicious and healthy recipes put together by The Million Hearts Initiative.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. If you know your height and weight, you can calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine if your weight is in a healthy range. During your annual physical, your doctor is likely to calculate your BMI. You can also calculate this measurement yourself using a BMI calculator.
Get Enough Physical Activity
The American Heart Association suggests that we aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.
Avoid Smoking or Using Other Forms of Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects almost every organ in your body, including your heart. There are immediate health benefits when you quit smoking. Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Within 1 year of quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
Limit Alcohol Use
If you drink alcohol, it is important to only drink in moderation. Current recommendations suggest that women drink no more than one drink per day and men drink no more than two drinks per day. Also, keep in mind what is considered a “drink.”
Interested in learning more about living a heart healthy lifestyle? Visit the American Heart Association Website for additional tips and resources!