February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, but in many cases, it can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and properly managing health conditions.
Eating healthy is one way to help reduce your risk of heart disease, and eating right does not have to be hard or require you to give up all of the foods you love. Here are some tips that may help prevent heart disease:
Try to include in your everyday diet:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish (preferably oily fish with omega-3 fatty acids)
- Skinless poultry and lean animal proteins
- Plant-based proteins
Try to limit these types of drinks and foods:
- Sweetened drinks
- Sodium and salty foods
- Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol
- Fatty or processed red meats – if you choose to eat meat, select leaner cuts
- Full-fat dairy products
- Tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil
The American Heart Association also stresses that being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. To improve overall cardiovascular health, it is suggested that individuals do:
- At least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
- Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day. Whether it is a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, all exercise adds up to a healthier heart.
Take the first step by walking. It is free, easy to do and when you have a walking companion, you are more likely to stay motivated. Your heart will be happy you did!!
SOURCES: American Heart Association