It used to be that February was the month for us hopeless romantics to open our hearts and profess our love for those special people in our life. Now that February is also National Heart Month, its also a good time to turn our attention inward and to pay special attention to the amazing organ that keeps us alive and tickin!
The heart of the matter if you eat a healthy diet and follow a regular fitness regimen you can keep your heart beating properly for years to come.
Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. Last year, 770,000 men and women had their first heart attack. Sadly, another 430,000 of us suffered a second or third attack in 2008.
How bad is it? Well, just about every 26 seconds, an American is felled by a coronary event and each minute someone dies because of a bad heart.
The CDC recommends that you make your daily food choices based on these suggestions from the American Heart Association (AHA):
--Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
--Select fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products.
--Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
--Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300mg of cholesterol each day.
--Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
--Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300mg of sodium per day (or less than 1,500mg if you are in a higher risk group for high blood pressure).
--If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if youre a woman and two drinks per day if youre a man.
The AHA reminds us that a healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness, the AHA states. If you cant do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
Chew on This: You may be eating plenty of food, but your heart may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories. To get the nutrients you need, choose foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products most often.
Diet-to-Go meals meet the guidelines of the AHA and other major health associations. If you cant seem to find the time to shop and cook for yourself, you may want to check out a home-delivered food service such as Diet-to-Go.
Treat your heart right and itll repay you with food health and a longer lifespan.
Author: John McGran