Love Your Heart
Written by: Nadeen Elhaddad MS, RDN, LDN
February is all about love. As we spend time determining how we want to shower the ones we care for with kindness and token of appreciation, what about our own hearts? And not the heart that we use for emotion but our actual heart- the one that we feel beating in the middle of our chest, maybe faster if our significant other is nearby.
Since 1964, February has been known as National Heart Health month- an opportunity to learn more as well as teach others about the various lifestyle habits we can put in place to keep our hearts healthy. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, affecting approximately 17.3 million individuals per year (1).
Heart disease is a broad term to encompass a variety of conditions. It is important to discuss with your physician your possible risk factors – family history, age, gender, smoking history, other co-morbidities (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.), and physical inactivity are just a few risk factors. Then a registered dietitian can guide you through appropriate lifestyle changes and develop a plan to take steps towards them.
Living a healthy lifestyle is one modifiable method to help reduce your risk for heart disease. Here are some ways to be good to your heart:
- Commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 5 days a week. Think about how to get the family involved- riding bikes together, taking walks on the greenways, or even watching an exercise video at home and doing it together.
- Limit saturated and trans fats- such as fattier meats, butter, whole milk, cream, fried foods or margarine. Swap them out for more heart healthy fats such as olive or canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds or fattier fishes like salmon.
- Increase your fruits, vegetables and whole grains – the more color the better.
- Be mindful of your salt intake. Use other herbs and spices to flavor dishes, like italian spices, cajun seasoning, or lemon pepper. Choose onion or garlic powder instead of salt.
- Stop smoking. Ask for help if you are ready to quit. Your healthcare team is here to support you.
- Limit alcohol consumption. The recommended amounts are 2 standards drinks for men and 1 standard drink for women per day. A standard drink equals 12oz beer, 5oz wine, or 1.5oz liquor.
Don’t wait to get started on preventing heart disease. Consider working with a registered dietitian to help you make lifestyle changes. At Avance Care, your dietitian will help you meal plan ideas for heart healthy snacks and meals, create exercise goals and/or routines, and break through barriers to help you live a heart healthy life. If you are interested in scheduling with an Avance dietitian, please call (919) 237-1337 to get started!
- American Heart Association http://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-is-american-heart-month-5712350
- The Heart Foundation https://www.theheartfoundation.org/heart-disease-facts/reducing-your-risk/