February is Heart Health Month. It’s a time to celebrate the ways we can keep our hearts—and those of the people we love—healthy and happy.
With just simple lifestyle changes, we can achieve optimal heart health. Being active and eating healthy is key. Moderate weekly exercise helps control weight, improve mental health, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular health screenings help keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Eating a healthy diet also reduces the risk of heart complications. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and lean meats over processed foods. Avoid saturated and trans fats, and limit the intake of salt and sugar.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in preventing heart diseases like angina, heart attacks, and strokes.
These tasty fruits are also full of monounsaturated fats. They taste great and are high in antioxidants and potassium.
A small amount of 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate can help to lower blood pressure. Studies show eating one ounce daily can lower systolic blood pressure by three to four points.
Spinach, broccoli, and kale contain fiber and loads of vitamins and minerals such as folate, an essential B vitamin. These greens are high in carotenoids that can free the body of potentially harmful compounds.
BEANS & LEGUMES
They are full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They satisfy hunger, decrease blood sugar swings, reduce cholesterol, and feed beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
Snacking on a handful of almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts is a great way to stay full. Walnuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, which actually helps lower blood cholesterol.
Anthocyanins are the antioxidants found in blue and red berries that give them a deep color. They also improve the elasticity of arteries, which benefits blood flow to the heart.
FLAX, CHIA, & HEMP SEEDS
These tiny and mighty seeds are not just a food trend, they are here to stay! High in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, they can be ground into smoothies or sprinkled over breakfast bowls
Lisa Mullin is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist whose passion is helping others eat for optimal health, weight, and wellness. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Like & Follow her Health and Wellness page on Facebook that shares nutrition, fitness, and health tips, as well as nutritious recipes at Facebook.com/lbmullin1.