The month of February is traditionally known as "Heart Month". In honor of this ritual, let's look closely at some steps that can improve your heart health.
The American Heart Association's "Healthy for Good" movement is great advice. Their approach is to "Eat Smart, Add Color and Move More to Be Well". In previous articles we have explored lifestyle changes to be taken one small step or bite at a time. So, let's look at how we can mesh these heart-healthy principles into achievable goals.
What does eating smart look like? Choosing leaner protein sources and low fat dairy foods, including more whole grains, opting for plant-based healthy fats and selecting more fresh fruits and vegetables are all health-changing first steps. What does this look like? Preparing a leaner turkey burger instead of a higher fat beef burger, ordering a low fat or non-fat latte in place of a frappuccino or opting for an oil-based salad dressing instead of a mayonnaise-type dressing is a smart start. The key to eating smart is to begin with one swap-out or change and once this becomes a lifestyle habit, choose another!
Perhaps the heart-healthy change you would like to make is to eat more fruits and vegetables. This change would check off the "Add Color" recommendation from the AHA. Variety is the spice of life, so choose an array of fruit and vegetables to make those colors pop on your plate! Not only is this visually appealing, you'll also boost your fiber,vitamin,mineral and antioxidant intake. Fill half your plate with fresh veggies to charge up your heart health!
If exercise is the change you would like to make, what does moving more look like for you? You may already be walking during your lunch break. So, what next? Like to shoot hoops? Ride your bike? Weight lift at the gym? Choose an activity you like to do and do it with intention. Studies show that the body likes to be challenged. Every 3-4 weeks mix up what you do, how you do it and/or how often you do it. Moving more promotes fitness with the additional bonus of losing weight. Take the first step toward moving more...your heart will love you for it!
This Heart Month think about how to show your heart some love...Eating smarter, choosing more colorful produce and moving more. Remember, this heart love can be a life-changer!
Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.