• ashley286

Healthy Hints: Heart Health

Updated: Jan 27

By Ashley Bramble

Heart disease is a leading cause of death, but it's not inevitable. While you can't change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are plenty of ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease.


A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. Remember, it's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.


HEART HEALTHY TIP#1: KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Because there are typically no symptoms of high blood pressure, it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Keeping it in check may lower your risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease or stroke.



ACTION ITEM: Get your blood pressure checked. Keep in mind that 2–3 measurements of blood pressure on different occasions will help provide a more accurate reading. If you currently have high blood pressure, speak with your doctor about how often you should self-monitor.



HEART HEALTHY TIP #2: EAT A HEART HEALTHY DIET

You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. A healthy diet can help protect your heart, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Eat an overall healthy diet pattern that emphasizes:

  • A variety of vegetables and fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods

  • Lean meats and fish

  • Beans, nuts, and other legumes

  • Healthy fats (non-tropical vegetable oils), such as olive oil


ACTION ITEM: Swap out some of your foods today for heart healthier options. Check out a few of these options:

  • Add veggies to every meal, including breakfast—whether that means pairing eggs with greens or adding a handful of spinach to a smoothie. Start out the day with some heart-healthy veggies.

  • Stir fresh berries into your yogurt instead of buying the flavored or fruit-on-the-bottom kind.

  • Instead of a burger, go for chicken, turkey, or fish instead. Or try a dish made with beans.

  • Dragging in the afternoon? At the vending machine, get mixed nuts rather than chips or pretzels. Instead of cheese, snack on hummus, which is high in cholesterol-lowering fiber.

  • Try this heart healthy burrito recipe: Use whole-grain corn tortillas and fill with grilled chicken or a mild white fish. Choose low-sodium canned beans. Sauté beans with onion, garlic, and spices for added flavor. Top burritos and tacos with chopped vegetables and salsa.



HEART HEALTHY TIP #3: LIMIT UNHEALTHY FATS, SUGARS, AND SALT

Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.


ACTION ITEM: Swap out some of your foods today for heart healthier options. Check out a few of these options:

  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

  • Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

  • Avoid and limit foods with saturated and trans fats and replace them with healthy fats. For example, top your baked potato with low-sodium salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use sliced whole fruit or low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.

  • Try this heart healthy pizza recipe: Make a homemade pizza using a whole-wheat, prebaked pizza crust with low-sodium pizza sauce and slivers of part-skim mozzarella or other light cheese. Top with sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, or any other vegetables you like.



HEART HEALTHY TIP #4: MOVE MORE

Regular, daily physical activity can lower your risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps you control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least:

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace

  • 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running

  • Combination of moderate and vigorous activity


ACTION ITEM: Get 30-minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (walking, biking, swimming), and focus on small bouts of activity that you can add during the day including:

  • Walk for five minutes every two hours.

  • Do a set or two of push-ups either on the floor or against the kitchen counter.

  • Perform up to 10 repetitions of stand-and-sit exercises, where you rise from a chair not using your arms and then sit down again.



HEART HEALTHY TIP #5: STRESS LESS

Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a "trigger" for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, are bad for your heart.

ACTION ITEM: Try deep breathing to help you reduce your stress. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).


FitPros offers a variety of services to help you celebrate National Heart Health Month, including the Love Your Heart Health Talk. In this webinar, you'll get tips from a Doctor on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress habits so you can keep your heart strong, as well as hidden threats to heart health. Love your life by loving your heart so you can keep it beating for a long time to come!


Offer this health talk (and/or others) throughout February! Email sales@fitpros.com or book time to speak with a Wellbeing Manager here to start planning your activities today!


Visit FitPros.com to learn more.

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