Smart Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Smart Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy

February is American Heart Month! It’s no secret that one’s susceptibility toward heart disease may be inherited – yet keeping your heart in tip-top shape doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, eating healthy and being active are the most powerful tools we have to prevent or delay disease. Start small and build on your successes with simple shifts to healthier choices each day.

Maintain a healthy weight & remember to move
Carrying extra weight, especially stomach fat, has a negative effect on blood pressure and arteries. But start to exercise, especially aerobic and strength-conditioning, and cardiac risk factors tend to plummet. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise five days a week.

Fruits and vegetables
Tomatoes, carrots, bananas, spinach, blueberries, plums, eggplant – filling your plate with lots of color provides a powerhouse of antioxidants that are important for heart-health. Select from fresh, frozen, canned or 100% juice to achieve a goal for 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Knock out inflammation with high fiber
Not only are whole grains and legumes more filling, they have lots of soluble fiber – the good guy in controlling damage from inflammation of the arteries. Barley, beans and oats are top choices.

Choose high quality proteins & fats
Eat skinless chicken, plant-based proteins and fish high in omega-3s like salmon, sardines and trout. When consuming red meat do so sparingly and always choose lean cuts. Look for fat-free, 1% and low-fat dairy products. Don’t forget to stock your cupboard with beneficial oils like canola, olive, safflower and soybean.

Slash the sodium
Beware of hidden sodium in prepared and canned foods. The current recommendation, if you have high blood pressure or pre-existing heart issues, is no more than 1500mg (less than 3/4 teaspoon) of sodium per day. This amount is associated with reduced blood pressure levels.

Debra Heverling