February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on what you can do to create a healthier heart! In America, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. You could be at risk for heart disease if you smoke, are obese, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. The good news is you can take control of your own heart health by adopting healthier behaviors.
How Can I Improve My Heart Health?
- Get Active: Aim for 30 minutes of activity a day most days of the week. Try parking further away or taking the stairs when you have those options.
- Eat Better: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and quality carbohydrates. Don’t forget to drink water too!
- Improve Your Weight: Ideally, work on getting your BMI below 25 with less weight carried around your stomach, and more around the hips. “Apple” shaped has more health risks than “Pear” shaped.
- Kick the Habit: According to the CDC, cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers. So, if you’re a smoker try to kick the habit.
- Reduce & Manage Your Blood Sugar: Try to eat small meals throughout the day and focus on quality carbohydrates that create less of a spike in blood sugar levels.
- Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check: It’s known as the silent killer for not having any symptoms. It’s important to check your blood pressure often. Lower your sodium intake by kicking the salt shaker habit and limit processed foods sodium intake.
- Control Your Cholesterol: Cholesterol or plaque build-up is one of the main causes of heart disease. Choose healthy fats while eliminating trans or saturated fats. Keep in mind though, although olive oil may be a better choice, it’s still a fat so keep the portion sizes small.