Taking Care of Your Heart

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and hearts are everywhere. But did you know that February is also heart health month? Here are some easy tips to keep your heart healthy.

Don’t Smoke. Avoid smoking and using any products containing tobacco. In addition to causing cancer, smoking can harden the arteries, and tobacco can elevate your heart rate.

Eat heart healthy foods. Including foods naturally high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber can keep your heart strong. This includes fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, and fish, nuts, and flax seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and trans fats, which include red meat, cheese, and fried foods.

Limit your intake of salt. Too much salt in your diet can cause high blood pressure. Watch out for foods with high levels of hidden sodium. This may include prepackaged foods and some cereals and breads.

Moderate your alcohol. Enjoy a glass of wine. With the many heart healthy benefits of antioxidants found in red wine, imbibing is a good thing. Just be sure to stick to one to two glasses per day, otherwise you can add unwanted calories.

Maintain a healthy weight. Keeping within the recommended BMI levels will keep you and your heart healthy. You can easily calculate your BMI over the internet.

Exercise. Aim for 30 minutes a day to keep your heart in top form. Remember that even small bursts of activity count toward this goal, so take a brisk 10-minute walk on your next break.

Manage stress. Daily stress from everyday life can contribute to a heart attack. Practice ways to reduce your stress levels, including meditation, yoga, or soothing baths. Even simple breathing exercises can help reduce stress.

And lastly, be mindful if you have a family history of heart disease. Check with your doctor for any additional measures you should be taking.

Be heart healthy; be happy!

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