Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, accountable for 1 in every 4 deaths each year. The good news is that we are not helpless against it, and together we can help prevent heart disease by making smarter choices about what we eat and how we live.
Celebrated each year in February, American Heart Month is the perfect time to start making small but important changes that will have a lasting impact on heart health, and a great place to start is with the Life’s Simple 7™ Action Plan from the American Heart Association (AHA):
- Get Active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) each day, five times per week, to help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Children should get 60 minutes a day, every day.
- Control Cholesterol: Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels protects your arteries and helps prevent blockages that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Get a regular screening, stay active, and eat foods that are low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats.
- Eat Better: A healthy diet is critical to preventing heart disease. Eat plenty of healthy fats (especially from fish and olive oil) along with fruit, non-starchy veggies, protein, nuts and legumes. Eliminate added sugars, starchy carbohydrates and trans fats.
- Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range with the right diet and lifestyle helps protect your heart as well as the blood vessels supporting it.
- Lose Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes—all of which may contribute to heart disease. Even losing five or 10 pounds can make a big difference when it comes to heart health!
- Reduce Blood Sugar: High blood sugar increases the risk of developing heart disease. Check your blood sugar levels regularly, and eliminate added sugars. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates from starchy foods such as breads, pasta and starchy veggies.
- Stop Smoking: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing heart disease because of the damage smoking does to the entire circulatory system. Quitting is the one of the best things you can do for your heart!
This month, you can help raise awareness about heart disease and spread the word about the benefits of adopting the Life’s Simple 7™ Action for a healthier, happier heart. Be sure to get the word out in your community!