For many, February brings to mind Valentine’s Day and candy hearts, but more importantly, February is American Heart Month. You may have seen the Go Red campaign on television or in magazines. Go Red is designed to raise awareness about heart disease in women. In fact, heart disease is the #1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer. It’s quite frightening, but the good news is that there are things we can do to fight heart disease. Knowing your risk factors to start, knowing the signs of a heart attack and, most importantly, living a healthy lifestyle.
Risk factors for heart disease, like many diseases, come in two types–those you can control and those you can’t. If you are diabetic you are much more likely to develop heart disease than someone who isn’t. Heart disease can also run in families (the heredity factor). But then there are things that can increase your risk such as smoking and being inactive, which are things that you have control over. The American Heart Association recommends people keep their cholesterol levels in check, blood pressure levels regulated, stay at a healthy weight, be physically active and refrain from smoking to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Sounds great, right? The tough part for many of us is changing our habits so that we’re living a healthy lifestyle. This is where fruit and vegetables can make that transition easier. Fruit and veggies are low in calories, high in fiber, cholesterol free, low in sodium and provide a wide variety of vitamins. If you need to drop a few pounds, they can help you reach your goal and keep you satisfied while doing so. A recent Insider’s Viewpoint provides more details on all their heart-healthy benefits.
Need an example of a great heart-healthy meal? Try this one out–and I even picked one that you can make for Valentine’s day dinner–Yellow Potato and Red Pepper Shrimp Saute.
Lastly, being active doesn’t mean you have to drop mega bucks at your local gym. If you belong to a gym, terrific. If not, no worries. We’re about to enter my favorite season–spring! And, this is a terrific time to get outside and be active. Walking, jogging, playing with your kids–these are all considered physical activity. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has a great section on physical activity and its importance in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
So, this month give yourself a special Valentine’s gift and make sure you and your family are treating your hearts extra special!