February is all about hearts! We aren’t talking about candy hearts in this post, but the health of your own heart. February is American Heart Month. Did you know that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in Americans? But take heart – there are easy ways to start living a more heart healthy lifestyle! Heart disease can be prevented by making healthy choices including good nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, not smoking, and getting regular exercise.
Focus on getting a variety of nutritious foods in your diet including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, beans/legumes, low-fat dairy products, and nuts. Try to limit foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Aim for a range of colors, as different colors provide different vitamins and minerals, all needed for good health. Strive to make your plate look like a rainbow!
Green – spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, avocadoes
Yellow/Orange – carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, peaches, oranges
Red – tomatoes, red peppers, beets, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, red grapes
Blue/Purple – eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, plums
White/Tan – cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, bananas
Choose healthier fats, including mono & polyunsaturated fats, as these can help lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Sources of unsaturated fats include avocadoes, nuts, fish, and oils (avocado, grapeseed, olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower).
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week. You should increase the amount and intensity gradually over time.
American Heart Month is a great time to focus on ways to support your heart healthy lifestyle. Working on these tips and tricks for the entire month of February will help them become habits you can carry through the rest of the year.