February is American Heart Month. Show your heart a little love by taking care of yourself and getting screenings that can help assess your risk for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke. In fact, heart disease kills more women than all types of cancer combined. Show yourself and your family love this month and throughout the year by leading an active lifestyle and providing a heart-healthy diet.
The first way to reduce your risk of heart disease is to be active. Regular, moderate activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Find activities that you enjoy alone or as a family and be physically active most days of the week. Whether running, walking, biking or skating enjoying your activity will help you make it part of your routine. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get at least two hours and 30 minutes per week even if you build in just 10 minutes at a time. Encourage your family to take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.
Choose a healthy eating plan that is right for you. That means an eating pattern that can be maintained for your lifetime and, at appropriate calorie levels to promote health and support a healthy body weight. A Registered Dietitian can help you or you can use the many tools (some below) available to help you make a healthy eating plan using many of the foods that you enjoy.
The areas to consider include:
Consume healthy meals and snacks that account for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level and fits your taste preferences, culture, traditions, and budget.
A healthy eating pattern includes fresh food and more plants and fiber:
♣ A variety of vegetables – dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy,
and all vegetable plants
♣ Fruits, especially whole fruits
♣ Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
♣ Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
♣ A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes
(beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
♣ Oils from plants – high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (good) fats
A healthy eating pattern limits processed foods, high fat foods and junk:
♣ Saturated fats found in fatty meats – less than 10% of total calories per day
♣ Trans fats; Generally, found in processed foods – raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol,
which increases heart disease risk
♣ Added sugars; Less than 10% of total calories per day
♣ Sodium; Less than 2300 mg per day
♣ Alcohol; If you drink alcohol, it should be only in moderation
There is a healthy eating pattern for everyone and everyone’s lifestyle. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are the experts in food and nutrition that can help you plan an eating pattern that is right for you. Additionally, you can find various examples of healthy eating patterns and the Top 10 Things You Need to Know on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines webpage or ChooseMyPlate.gov.