February is National Heart Month.
Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, listen to this:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
Luckily, there are many ways to prevent and control heart disease.
How can I prevent heart disease?
Follow these tips to stay ahead of the curve:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, or frozen juice bars. Mix vegetables such as sauteed onions, peas, pinto beans, or tomatoes into your favorite dish for that extra flavor.
- Eat foods low in saturated fat and trans fat – bake, broil, grill, or poach meat, poultry, or fish instead of frying. Trim away visible fat from meats before cooking and drain off the fat that appears during cooking. Limit lean meats to 5 to 6 ounces per day and eat meatless meals that feature dried peas and beans (like black beans), tofu, or vegetables. Skip high fat sauces and gravies. This helps to prevent high cholesterol.
- Limit sodium in your diet – prepare foods from scratch instead of purchasing convenience foods and mixes. Use herbs and spices, lemon juice, and flavored vinegar to flavor food. This can help to control your blood pressure.
- Include regular physical activity in your life – at least 150 minutes per week.
- Maintain a healthy weight – if you are overweight, work with a dietitian who can help you make a few simple changes to lower your weight.
- Don’t smoke – if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. ‘Nuff said.
- Limit alcohol use – men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
- Have your cholesterol checked – high total and LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol increases your risk.
- Monitor your blood pressure – high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and peripheral heart disease.
- Manage your diabetes – if you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.