Happy Valentine’s Day! We wish you a day full of hearts and flowers (maybe a glass of heart-healthy red wine, and maybe even a handmade card complete with one of those lace doilies). As our thoughts turn to love and matters of the heart, it’s a perfect time to consider what you can do to keep your heart healthy.
It may not be as romantic as the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, but managing your weight and choosing heart healthy foods are two ways you can celebrate Heart Health Month and fight heart disease!
To get started, ask your physician or healthcare provider if you are at risk for cardiac disease because of your Body Mass Index (or the ratio of your weight to your height). A loss of as little as 5% of your body weight (which may be a mere 10 pounds) can reduce the stress on your heart.
The FMH Wellness Center has Weight Management Programs that help you lose weight gradually and teach you the healthy habits you’ll need to keep the weight off for good. Weight loss can mean a permanent reduction in your cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, all of which directly impact cardiac health.
As for heart healthy food choices, consider these tips:
- Build your meals from lean protein (like poultry, seafood, egg whites and beans).
- Incorporate whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grain oats.
- Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, nut butters, avocados, nuts and seeds) can be used in moderate portions. Remember that fats should be measured in teaspoons or tablespoons depending on the food item.
- Most importantly, eat plenty of unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Snacks of raw vegetables with Greek yogurt dip or hummus are a perfect way to fill up on heart-healthy nutrients while reducing saturated fat and calories.
Including lots of these foods daily ensures that you are consuming the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can keep your cardiovascular system in tip-top condition. You may find by focusing on getting in the healthy choices listed, there is less room for high-sugar, high-fat and high-sodium foods. Trust us, your heart will thank you for it!
For more information on a heart healthy diet and nutrition counseling, please call the FMH Wellness Center at 240-379-6020.