Startling statistics about heart health demonstrate that you are more likely to die from heart disease than from any other disease. In fact, heart disease is the nation’s number one killer. With February being American Heart Month, now is the perfect time to take the power of your wellbeing into your own hands and to remind your loved ones about the importance of heart health.
The good news is that by following a healthy diet and lifestyle you will not only feel better but you can also significantly improve your heart health. Start your lifestyle change by making a commitment to yourself and outlining your short- and long-term health goals. Don’t over-indulge on calories, and incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity into your everyday routine– or at least five times a week.
The next step is to incorporate better eating habits into your diet to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to help reduce your risk for heart attack and heart disease. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that fill you up but are low in calories. A wholesome eating plan means not only choosing the right foods to eat but also preparing them in a healthy way. It may take some time to adjust to eating more nutritiously, but by exploring a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups and trying out new recipes, you’ll soon find this lifestyle change habitual, and your heart will thank you.
Below are some helpful tips to guide your food selection– especially for your Valentine’s Day Dinner:
- Whole grains (linkto:wholegrains page)contain many nutrients that can help lower blood cholesterol, as well as fiber to help you feel full, and may help you manage your weight.
- Enriched grains (linkto: enrichedgrain page) contain folic acid, which may help lower the risk of heart disease.
- Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and are low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help control weight and blood pressure.
- Seafood should be part of a healthy menu at least twice a week. Eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout and herring) may help lower the risk of death from coronary artery disease.
- Low-fat dairy products should be a priority. Select fat-free, one-percent fat and low-fat options.
- Lower your sodium intake by choosing and preparing foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
- Lean meats and poultry should be prepared without the skin and by roasting, broiling or grilling.
- Read labels and try to lower your consumption of trans fats.