Love is in not the only thing the air this month. February is Heart Health Awareness month, which means your number one valentine should be your heart! Pamper your heart not just heart health month, but all year round with these tips and tricks. Find out the best and the worst heart foods plus some lifestyle tips to keep your heart healthy. According to the CDC, over 600,000 people die each year from heart disease, making heart disease the leading cause of death in men and women. Making some simple lifestyle changes can keep your heart healthy and cut your risk for heart related illnesses.
5 Heart Health Tips:
1. Fatty fish is your friend
Omega-3’s are a heart’s best friend. Fatty fish, such as wild salmon, are full of heart pumping omega-3’s that will help boost your immune system, protect your arteries, reduce blood clots, lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks. Can your box of Sweethearts do that?
2. Eat your beans
Beans are not only the “musical fruit” but the heart healthy legume. The fiber in beans is not only good for digestion, but may help lower cholesterol. Beans also contain heart healthy chemicals, including flavonoids, which may lower the risk of heart attacks by preventing the bonding of platelets in the blood.
Make aerobic exercise part of your heart healthy routine. Aerobic exercise consists of running, swimming and even walking. It’s anything that gets your heart pumping. Aim for 30 minutes 5-7 times per week. According to active.com, sedentary people who begin a regular program of exercise reduce their risk of a heart attack by 35 to 55 percent! Before you begin an aerobic workout, make sure to warm up to not only get your body ready for exercise, but help your heart and muscles adjust from a resting state and gradually increase your heart rate. And don’t forget the cool down to help bring that heart rate down.
4. Sub the donut for steel cut oats
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why not make it heart healthy? Steel cut oats contain B vitamins that protect again blood clots and increase good cholesterol. They are also high in iron, which helps the heart transport oxygen to active muscles.
5. Another reason to love chocolate
Of course we had to choose chocolate as a heart healthy food! Chocolate may get a bad rep, but in moderation it actually offers heart benefits. Research has found that eating small amounts of dark chocolate, which is rich in flavanols, has a blood thinning effect which can benefit cardiovascular health. Flavanols also help preserve the function of blood vessels which lower the risk of high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. So go ahead, enjoy those dark chocolate covered strawberries!
5 Heart Breakers
1. Being a couch potato
Staying active is key in maintaining heart health. Exercising can also help you maintain your weight, cutting your risk for obesity. About one in three Americans are obese. Being obese doubles the risk for coronary artery disease. Obesity also puts you at risk for diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension.
2. Say goodbye to fast food
Fast food is convenient, but deadly. Fast food is loaded with sodium and artery-clogging saturated fat. If you do eat out, try a salad and go light on the dressing.
3. Quit smoking
20-40% off all coronary artery disease deaths are related to smoking. Smoking doubles your chance of having a heart attack and is the leading cause of cardiac arrest. Even if you have been a smoker your whole like, within five to 10 years of quitting, your risk of heart attack decreases to a level similar to non smokers.
4. Skip the salt
If you are a salt lover, try using a flavored seasoning made mostly with herbs and spices. Cutting the salt can help lower your blood pressure to avoid hypertension. According to Active.com, every one-point reduction in diastolic blood pressure, there’s a 2 to 3 percent decline in the risk of heart attack. Try keeping your sodium intake under 2,400 milligrams per day.
5. Sugar isn’t so sweet after all
Drop the cookie- our bodies do not need all that sugar! Sugar has zero nutrients and can lead to obesity and Type-2 diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily calories allowance. That’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons for men. Switch to Stevia or another natural sweetener to reduce sugar calories. If you are really craving something sweet, have a piece of fruit.
It may be tough at first, but even slow and steady changes to your lifestyle and diet can help lengthen your lifespan.
1.Rodriquez, Vanessa. 3 Foods Your Heart Will Love. Active.com. Retrieved January 24th, 2013 from http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/3-Foods-Your-Heart-Will-Love.htm.
2.Myers, Wyatt. (May 5th, 2012). 10 Heart Risks You Can’t Ignore at Any Age. Everyday Health. Retrieved January 25th, 2013 from http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_healthy_diet_center/top_15_heart_healthy_foods
3.Connery, Rochelle. Your Healthy Heart Exercise Routine. Active.com.Retrieved January 24th from http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/Your-Healthy-Heart-Exercise-Routine.htm
4.Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved January 30th, 2013 from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
5.University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter. 8 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease. Retrieved January 30th, 2013 from http://www.active.com/fitness/Articles/8_Ways_to_Prevent_Heart_Disease.htm
6.American Heart Association. (June 11th, 2012). Sugars and Carbohydrates. Heart.org. Retrieved January 31st from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp