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Heart-Healthy Habits: A Guide for American Heart Month

You may already know or have seen that February is recognized as American Heart Month. The purpose behind this is to bring awareness to the facts that heart disease is a leading cause of preventable deaths in America and is THE leading cause of death for women in America. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which often leads to heart attack or heart failure. Let’s take a look at some of the risk factors for heart disease and what you can do to help keep your heart healthy- both this month and beyond!

Some risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Smoking

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Poor nutrition

  • Inactive lifestyle

  • Excessive alcohol intake

  • Diabetes

Now, Let’s break down a few of these risk factors and discover some tools that you can use to make positive nutrition changes towards protecting your heart.

Nutrition as a Tool for Heart Health

Have you ever heard of the DASH diet? DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This particular eating plan/pattern is a great tool because rather than implementing strict diet guidelines or protocols, it focuses on overall nutrition habits to help improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, and can also help with weight management and/or weight loss. The DASH diet focuses on incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, and limiting foods that are higher in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.

Many Americans are consuming upwards of 3,000 mg of sodium per day. The Dietary Guidelines for American’s recommend 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is 1 teaspoon of table salt. While limiting sodium is important for blood pressure control, there are other nutrients to consider as well such as potassium, calcium, fiber, and magnesium. It can be so beneficial to work with a Registered Dietitian when trying to make necessary changes to your diet and form new dietary habits to ensure you are consuming adequate nutrients each day.

A heart-healthy bowl of oatmeal adorned with a generous sprinkle of vibrant blueberries—a wholesome and delicious choice for American Heart Month.


Incorporating Physical Activity

Another great way to help improve your health is movement. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of brisk walking per week for many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and to help improve blood pressure. 150 minutes can sound a little bit daunting, but breaking this down day by day can help. This could look like 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days/week. If you can’t find 30 consecutive minutes for a walk, this could even look like (3) 10-minute walks each day too. For example, after breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. The possibilities are endless, and each minute of movement counts toward your health! Of course, it is always important and recommended to discuss any new exercise regimen or activity with your medical provider.

We hope that these few tips and tricks have inspired you to try something new for your cardiovascular health! If you have more specific questions or would like to learn more about how nutrition can play a role in your overall and heart health, feel free to reach out or schedule a nutrition assessment with us! You can find more information about booking on our website.

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