February is Heart Health Month, but our hearts deserve some TLC year-round. Let’s learn some heart-healthy tips that will keep our hearts, minds, and bodies strong all year long.
1. Fill up on Fiber-rich foods
Fiber is one of our best friends when it comes to heart health. Fiber can also aid in losing weight, improving digestion, preventing cancer, and lowering the risk of developing diabetes. Eating adequate amounts of fiber-rich foods can help us to lower many of the risk factors of heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, many of us fall short of meeting the recommended amount per day. You may be wondering, “what is the daily recommended amount of fiber?”
The Institute of Medicine has made the following recommendations for the minimum amount of fiber per day:
|Age 50 or younger||Age 51 or older|
|Males||38 grams||30 grams|
|Females||25 grams||21 grams|
2. Limit intake of foods high in fat and cholesterol
Foods high in fat and cholesterol can promote the buildup of plaque in our arteries that can lead to heart disease. Limiting, avoiding, or replacing them with healthier options is ideal. Foods high in fat and/or cholesterol include many animal products like meat, seafood, cheese, butter, and eggs, as well as oil, fried foods, and many baked goods.
Think you may miss the meat? There are so many tasty and fiber-rich options to please your palate and your heart like mushrooms, beans, lentils, peas, tofu, seitan, and meat substitutes such as veggie burgers. Check out the following if interested in learning more: Top Five Meat Alternatives and How to Use Beans as a Meat Substitute in any Recipe.
3. Engage in regular exercise
Exercise is a great way to improve heart health and boost your mood! It can be helpful to find enjoyable and energizing activities to complete. Finding a fitness center, like CoreLife Fit, that is designed to make everyone feel comfortable can help keep you motivated and increase your overall activity level. Also, consider trying all three types of exercise: aerobic, resistance training, and stretching. Shoot for at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, 2-3 resistance training sessions per week, and stretching daily.
4. Practice stress-management techniques
Meditation and deep breathing are great ways to reduce stress. There are many mindfulness practices that reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Leah Mandley discusses the importance of mindfulness and gives a deeper understanding of this practice. Other stress management techniques include yoga, tai chi, and Qigong.
5. Get adequate sleep
Lack of sleep is directly associated with cardiac problems and obesity. It can disrupt hormone levels which lead to a considerable increase in the person’s appetite, making them feel hungry even when the body doesn’t need food. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.
What heart-healthy tip will you focus on this month?