Cardiovascular disease, including stroke, is our nation’s No. 1 killer. Since 1963, Congress has required the President to proclaim February “American Heart Month” to urge Americans to join the battle against these diseases. So, with Valentine’s Day here and love in the air, it’s an excellent time to focus on healthy habits you can practice to have a healthy heart!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 25 seconds someone in the U.S. will have a coronary event, and every minute someone will die from one. You can greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease by practicing several healthy lifestyle habits including exercising regularly, eating healthy, avoiding tobacco use and seeing your healthcare provider for annual checkups.
Regular exercise strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers your blood pressure, increases your endurance, improves your circulation and can even help you achieve or maintain healthy weight. Make sure you get 60 minutes of activity in each day. The good news is that these 60 minutes could be added up throughout the day- 10 minutes here, 20 there, – it makes a difference! Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise and can be done by most people.
When it comes to eating healthy, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and fat-free or 1 percent dairy products. Limit or avoid fried foods, trans fats (found in cookies, cakes, pastries, fast foods, etc.). Some foods, like salmon, almonds, walnuts, beans, oatmeal, spinach and more offer protective benefits for your heart.
One great way to help lower blood pressure and take care of your heart is the DASH diet. The DASH diet is recommended by physicians for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) or prehypertension. The DASH diet eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). In addition to being a low salt (or low sodium) plan, the DASH diet provides additional benefits to reduce blood pressure. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy. You can see the full DASH diet plan by visiting this link: DASH DIET. The DASH diet is a healthy plan, designed for the whole family. New research continues to show additional health benefits of the plan. The DASH diet can help lower cholesterol, and with weight loss and exercise, can reduce insulin resistance.
Love your heart during the Valentine’s season and eat heart healthy and exercise!